First Fruits

A compilation of quotes from scripture, the Holy Fathers, or contemporary Orthodox Christian sources to remind us to offer to God what is best and first each week. Use these quotes for personal inspiration or for your parish stewardship communications.

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The gift is doubled by the manner of giving.  +St. John Chrysostom

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We must begin with thanksgiving for everything. The beginning of joy is to be content with your situation.

St. Ambrose of Optina

From the Matins of Holy Tuesday:

Behold O my soul! The Master entrusts to you a talent. Receive the gift with fear; lend to Him who gave it; distribute to the poor, and gain the Lord as a Friend; that you may stand on His right, when He comes in glory, and hear His blessed voice: “Enter, O servant, into the joy of Your Lord!” In Your great Mercy, O Savior, deem me, who has strayed, worthy of this joy.

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The Kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and abstinence with holiness; and so the rich shall not enter into it, but those who entrust their treasures to the hands of the poor. This is what David the Prophet teaches us saying: The righteous man shows mercy all the day long; his delight is in the Lord, walking in the light he shall not stumble. All this was written for our admonition, that we should fast and do good; and in exchange for earthly things may the Lord reward us with the things of heaven.

From Orthros, Fifth Sunday of Great Lent

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Is not this the fast that I choose: …Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.

Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, Here I am.

Isaiah 58:6-9

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Almsgiving above all else requires money, but even this shines with a brighter luster when the alms are given from our poverty. The widow who paid in the two mites was poorer than any human, but she out did them all. +St. John Chrysostom

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You must not think of giving alms to the poor as an expense but as a source of income. It is not an outlay of money, but it is a profitable business. For you get back more than you give. You give bread and get back eternal life. You give a coat and get back a garment of immortality. You give your house to be shared, and you receive back a heavenly Kingdom. +St. John Chrysostom

True Generosity

JOHNCHRYThe amount we give is not judged by the largeness of the gifts but the largeness of our hearts. The poor woman who shares her meager pot of stew with another poor woman is far more to be praised than the rich man who throws a few gold coins into a collection at church.  But although most Christians acknowledge the truth of this, their words and actions convey a different message.  When a rich man makes a large gift to the church, he is heartily thanked; and although he will not feel the lack of that money himself, he is praised for his generosity.  When a poor man makes a small gift, nothing is said, even though that gift may cause him to go hungry, no one praises him or thanks him.  It would be better to praise no one than to confine our praise to the rich.  Better still, we should take trouble to observe every true act of generosity, whether by the rich or the poor, and then offer our praise.  Indeed let us be as generous with our praise as people are generous with their money.

St. John Chrysostom from On Living Simply

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The time which you lend to God is not lost: He will return it to you with abundant interest.

+St. Basil the Great

Living Generously

Liberality is living generously; it serves as a weapon against greed. Give freely to others when it is within your power to do so, without any expectation of getting something in return. This includes giving to the homeless, neighbors, and those in our own families. We can’t simply expect this from our children. We model it when they watch us joyfully give to others and when they are recipients of our generosity. And we can help them live generously by providing opportunities for them to give and serve.

From The Ascetic Lives of Mothers, by Annalisa Boyd, Ancient Faith Publishing.

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