“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)
Tag: Pledge Campaign
The Abundant Harvest: Giving, Pledging, Tithing
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.