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.

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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And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8

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People give all sorts of reasons to excuse their lack of charity, their hardheartedness!  Some say, “hard times.” But if the times are hard for those who have a sufficiency, how much harder are they for the poor?  This pretext alone should lead one to give all the more generously.
+St. Theophan the Recluse

Sunday of Orthodoxy

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Come let us cleanse ourselves by almsgiving and acts of mercy to the poor,
Not sounding a trumpet or making a show of our charity.
Let not our left hand know what our right hand is doing;
Let not vainglory scatter the fruit of our almsgiving;
But in secret let us call on Him that knows all secrets;
Father, forgive us our trespasses, for Thou lovest mankind.

From the Sunday of Orthodoxy Matins 

PRODSON

While fasting with the body, brethren, let us also fast in spirit.
Let us loose every bond of iniquity ;
Let us undo the knots of every contract made by violence;
Let us tear up all unjust agreements;
Let us give bread to the hungry
And welcome to our house the poor who have no roof to cover them,
That we may receive great mercy from Christ our God.

From the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, Wednesday of the First Week

On the Last Judgment

mother maria

The way to God lies through love of people. At the Last Judgment I shall not be asked whether I was successful in my ascetic exercises, nor how many bows and prostrations I made. Instead I shall be asked did I feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and the prisoners. That is all I shall be asked. About every poor, hungry and imprisoned person the Savior says ‘I’: ‘I was hungry and thirsty, I was sick and in prison.’ To think that he puts an equal sign between himself and anyone in need. . . . I always knew it, but now it has somehow penetrated to my sinews. It fills me with awe.

+Mother Maria Skobtsova of Paris

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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

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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

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