Stewardship, Pledges and Tithes

Abraham

“It is a moral and spiritual imperative for Orthodox Christians to consecrate to God all of their wealth and possessions – together with their very life – for His purpose and to His glory. This imperative was given concrete expression by the Old Testament commandment to offer tithes: one tenth of produce and livestock was consecrated to the Lord in imitation of Abram’s offering of a tenth of the spoils of war to Melchizedek, ‘priest of God Most High’ (Gen. 14:19-20; cf. Lev. 27:30-33; Num. 18). In practice, Israel’s tithes provided material support for the Temple and its priests. With the Deuteronomic reform, the tithe was extended to offer support as well for Levites (who held no property), sojourners, widows and orphans (Deut. 14:27-29). In the early Church, the act of tithing became a symbol of the gift of oneself as well as of one’s possessions, offered to God as a gesture of thanksgiving and love (cf. Didachē 13:7: ‘…of all your possessions, take the firstfruits…and give according to the commandment’; St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies IV.18.1: ‘The oblation of the Church, which the Lord gave instructions to be offered throughout all the world, is received by God as a pure sacrifice…[H]e who offers is himself glorified in what he offers, if his gift is accepted’; St. John Chrysostom, Hom. in Eph. II, passim).”  (John Breck, Longing for God: Orthodox Reflections on Bible, Ethics, and Liturgy, pp 218-219)

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