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562Homily for 10/27/13 - P17 - God loves a cheerful giver

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  • David
    Oct 27, 2013
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      2 Cor 9:6-11

      “God loves a cheerful giver�. With these words, the Apostle reminds us
      and encourages us to be cheerful givers. This, of course, begs the
      question, what do we give and how do we give it? The answer that leaps
      to mind is that what we must give is money and how we give it is to our
      local parish. Well, this is indeed one answer and a very important one.
      A little further on in this letter, the Apostle writes that “this
      service (i.e. giving) not only supplies the needs of the saints, but is
      abundant also by many thanksgivings to God…� The gifts then “supply the
      needs of the saints� – that is first those who minister unto us – our
      pastors and archpastors and the Church as a whole. Then the Apostle also
      mentions that this results also in many thanksgivings for this
      distribution does not end with the needs of the saints, but also
      continues on to all men. This is an important point, for by supporting
      our local parish, we not only enrich ourselves but we also enrich the
      community around us by establishing a house of God; a place where He is
      worshipped and from whence He is proclaimed to the world.

      However, this is not the only answer to the question of what and how do
      we give. Let us stick with “money� for now as the answer to what do we
      give, however, it is not only to support the Church that we should be
      giving. In the Law, the Hebrews were commanded to tithe – that is to set
      aside the tenth of their increase each year as holy to the Lord. This
      tithe was to be used in particular ways – to be given to the Levite
      (that is the priestly class for their service and the care of the
      temple), to the stranger, the fatherless and the widow. (Deut 26:12).
      See here that our giving is not limited to the support and upkeep of the
      Church – but it is extended to others who are in need as well, widows,
      fatherless and strangers who beg for alms. When we give of our
      resources, whether it is money or some other goods that we have, we
      should look around and address the needs of those around us, whether
      they be family, friends, or even strangers.

      Money, however, is not the only thing that we can give. As we just
      mentioned, sometimes our giving comes out of our possessions or
      resources. This is expressed not only in the virtue of charity, but also
      of hospitality – sharing our food and our homes with others. We can
      share not only our food and shelter, but also all of the other resources
      that we possess in this life. We can give rides to those who are without
      transportation; we can offer a warm coat or shoes to those who are
      without; we can offer to share anything that we have with someone who is
      without. Sometimes what we have is not an object or a thing – sometimes
      it is simply ourselves. We can share our skills and abilities by helping
      others or doing things for them. We can share our time and presence –
      just listening or being with someone who needs to have someone around.
      We can share our friendship – reaching out to others and enriching their
      lives with our own (and in turn our lives are enriched by theirs).

      When we think of giving, too often we limit ourselves to thinking about
      just our money or our possessions; however, we can give of ourselves in
      every aspect of our lives. And Christian giving is not limited only to
      giving to the Church, but extends far beyond reaching out to the whole
      world, impelling us to give whenever we see someone in need.
      In the beginning of what we heard read today there is a very important
      principle about giving. The Apostle says to us, “he who sows (gives)
      sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully
      shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposes in his
      heart, so let him give; not grudgingly or of necessity…� Christian
      giving is not a one way street – for as we give to others so also we
      receive from God in return. The more you give, the more God will give to
      you. If you give the whole of your life – all of your resources, time,
      energy, and so on – then God will give to you all that you need in this
      life. To “sell all that you have and give it to the poor� means that
      you, then, of necessity will live a life of total dependence upon God.
      If you hold nothing back and let go of everything, then God will provide
      for you all that you need. To the extent that you hold back, you
      impoverish yourself for you lose out on what God has provided for you.
      As we mentioned before, in the Law, there is the requirement to set
      aside a tenth (a tithe) of all that you have to give to God. The
      Apostle, however, does not even mention the tithe here when speaking of
      giving, but rather encourages us all to give “bountifully� and “not
      grudgingly� or “of necessity� (that would be out of duty). Our Lord
      Jesus Christ does not require a tithe of us, but desires that we give to
      Him the whole of our lives.

      This total giving of oneself is the ideal – the level of giving that we
      strive toward – however, we are not required to rise to this level all
      at once. Notice what the Apostle says here, that every man should give,
      “according as he purposes in his heart.� We have the goal set before us
      of giving all that we have and all that we are, but our Lord, knowing
      our weakness and in His mercy allows us to give what we are able and
      asks only that we give “bountifully�, “not grudgingly or of necessity�
      and “cheerfully�.

      One pitfall that sometimes people will fall into is that they purpose to
      give what they do not have and so give nothing until they somehow
      acquire that which they have desired to give. This is the person, for
      example, who plans to give a million dollars to the Church when he wins
      the lottery – but until then gives nothing. This pitfall robs us of the
      great benefit that could be ours if only we step away from the fantasy
      and give out of what God has given to us. Recall the parable of the
      widow who gave two pennies and seeing this our Lord remarked that her
      gift was greater than those who put much greater sums in the offering
      for she had given all that she had while the others had given only out
      of their excess. ItÂ’s not so much the amount that matters, but rather
      that we give out of what God has given to us already. Waiting for God to
      give us something more so that we can give it simply robs us of the
      blessing that God is waiting to give to us today if only we give what we
      have.

      Brothers and sisters, let us then practice giving. Look at what God has
      given to you and begin to give it as much as you are able. Even if all
      you can do is to give a little – then start with that and strive to
      increase your giving until it encompasses your whole life. Our Lord
      Jesus Christ gave His whole self to us, let us in return give our whole
      selves to Him.

      --
      Archpriest David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
      Homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/
      Website: http://stseraphimboise.org