Sermon notes from October 9, 1988
Only by giving/sowing will we ever be able to reap a harvest, only by planting the seed will the seed grow and produce even more fruit. If we hold on to our seeds – to the blessings we have received and harvested – they can never grow and produce more. It is only in sowing the seed – giving it away, that it produces a harvest. In sowing seed, you get back more then you ever give. If you hold on to the seed, it will not produce a harvest, and will in fact die/become worthless, When we sow/plant our seed, only then can it produce fruit. In fact good is perpetuated through the abundant harvest in future generations.
In the 2nd century both St. Justin the Martyr and Tertullian state the church is to collect tithes to carry on in its mission. God promises to bless those who joyfully give the tithe (Malachi 3:8-10). God states that only those who generously give the tithe will be blessed by Him (Proverbs; 2 Corinth. 9:6-11). Tithing was the accepted method of giving in the Old and New Testaments and in the Orthodox Church starting back in the 2nd Century.
So, we can understand that proportionate giving and tithing are not something new in our Church, but have been part of Orthodoxy from the time of the apostles until now. Hundreds of saints in our church taught and practiced proportionate giving. It is a very small portion of our blessings that we are asked to offer to God. We are taught to offer a percentage of our income as a thanks giving offering to God. While everything we have comes to us as a gift from God, we are only offering a small percentage back to God. All of the blessings we receive rightly belong to God, we offer Him only a percentage of what is rightfully his.
Everyone should have received in the mail this week the pledge cards and letter from our church. In that letter there are listed specific guidelines for you to determine which percentage of your income that you are going to offer to God in thanksgiving for the blessings you have received. Those lists are given to help you determine what your weekly or monthly donations to the church will be. I ask you as your pastor and as a priest of the Living God to pray about your giving, and then to fill out your pledge card and return it to the parish.
As it says in Deuteronomy 16:17, “Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.” Our ancestors responded to the Lord’s command by tithing. Throughout my entire adult life I have given the tithe to the church. I have never lacked any good thing, and indeed God has richly and abundantly blessed us and provided for our every need.
As we are taught in Proverbs (3:9-10)
Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.
3 thoughts on “The Abundant Harvest: Giving, Pledging, Tithing”
Justin Martyr and Tertullian did NOT teach tithing. You need to go back and research this again.
Martyr: First Apology, cahpter 67. Dialog with Trypho, chapter 17, 19, 33, 112.
Tertullian: Marcion, book 4, chapter 27; Akplogy chapter 39, pages 1-18.
The blog was originally composed in 1988, and though I am sure I had a particular reference in mind – probably something I had recently read, I didn’t cite the source, so can’t today say where the idea came from.
It may be a small point, and perhaps one of semantics, but I didn’t say that Justin and Tertullian taught people to tithe, only that they referred to the church’s collecting the tithe to carry on its mission. It may be that you are reading more into my comment than I intended. My point was more that Justin and Tertullian referred to the tithe – a word not commonly used among Orthodox Christians in the 1980’s, and that the tithe was known by Patristic writers. That is a far cry from claiming that they taught the tithe as some mandatory practice.
I too would like to know where Martyr and Tertullian had taught tithing.
– jared b