The essence of almsgiving is a charitable heart burning with love for every creature, and desiring what is good for it. Almsgiving consists not merely in giving, but in compassion–when we see a fellow human being suffering in some way and if we can help him, somehow, we do it.
St. Macarios of Optina
What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has the eyes to see misery. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men.
Augustine of Hippo
And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.”
From the Gospel reading on the 15th Sunday of Luke. Find the entire reading from Luke 19:1-10 at the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.
I view my stewardship as a process. I have made a small increase this year, but I hope that by continuing to prayerfully assess my means in subsequent years I may eventually reach the level of a true steward. I am certainly not there at this point. The reasons behind my desire to increase my stewardship are hardly profound. All the things I have learned from greater involvement in my church have convinced me that true stewardship should be sacrificial. That said, I knew I was not living up to that with my previous level of contribution. I thought about how much money I am willing to spend on the other things such as a daily cup of coffee, dinner out, a new outfit, etc. When I compared those figures with how much I was giving the church, I was ashamed of myself. I had no choice but to increase my contribution, and I hope to continue to do so in future years. Those considerations and my desire to make God and my parish a priority in every element of my life lead me to increase my stewardship.
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He who loves God will certainly love his neighbor as well. Such a person cannot hoard money, but distributes it in a way befitting God, being generous to everyone in need. St. Maximos the Confessor
The truly rich are not those who keep their riches to themselves but those who give to others. Happiness comes not from possessing wealth but from giving it away. Whatever is generously given away becomes a fruit of the soul. +St. Clement of Alexandria
And even if a person should possess the complete treasures of the King, he should hide them and say continually: “The treasure is not mine, but another has given it to me for a charge. For I am a beggar and when it pleases Him, He can claim it from me.” +St. Macarios
Brethren, please let us be afraid of these truly dreadful evils. Let is organize our lives as is pleasing to God. Let us forgive that we may be forgiven, let us be merciful to those in need that we may receive mercy many times more abundantly, He who impoverished Himself to the uttermost for our sakes, Himself receives our alms, and in His munificence He will multiply the reward. We must either be poor as He was, and so live with Him, or share what we have with those who are poor for His sake, and so be saved through them. Let us acquire merciful hearts and give positive proof of brotherly love and devotion towards the Father and Master of all. You will never find a more acceptable time to do this than the days of the fast. If you join almsgiving to fasting you will blot out every sin, venerate the saving passion with boldness, join in the rejoicing at Christ’s resurrection and gain eternal redemption.” (St. Gregory Palamas, On the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus)
To read the Gospel reading for the 5th Sunday of Luke (16:19-31) visit the Online Chapel at goarch.org.
One year my family was given a special collection box to take home, fill with donations, and return to our church a few months later for a worthy Orthodox Christian cause. I loved the idea! My mind immediately focused on all the spare change we had accumulated—in the cup holder of the car, the bedside table, the couch cushions. If I would place this change in the box, I would not only be giving to a worthy cause, but I would be getting rid of the nuisance of having to figure out what to do with this change. I could solve two problems at once!
Little did I know, this box was about to transform the way I think about giving. Along with the box, we were given one last instruction, to please approach our collection as giving something up for Christ. We were challenged to consider giving in a spirit of sacrifice, rather than simply giving our leftovers. I realized then and there that I could–and should–give much more that I had initially thought to give. In fact, I realized this was true not just for the special collection box, but in all aspects of my giving to Christ and the Church.
After that day, we tried to treat the collection box almost like lighting a candle in church. Rather than only putting in spare change, we consciously tried to put in bills on a regular basis and say a prayer as we did so. The little lesson of the collection box stays with me to this day and stops me as I reach into my pocket to give: am I willing to sacrifice or just offer what I don’t need, my leftovers?
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And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. And as for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience.
The Gospel of Luke 8:14-15
From the Gospel reading on the Sunday of the 7th Ecumenical Council. Visit the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese for the entire reading for the day.