My beloved spiritual children,
Christ is in our midst! He was, is, and ever shall be. Ο χριστός εν τω μέσω ημών και ην και εστι και εσται.
"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich." (2 Corinthians 8:9)
"Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation" (2 Corinthians 9:5).
Saint Paul in his Letter to Timothy reminds us, "Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, Who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life" (1 Timothy6:17-19).
Saint Paul very clearly advises the rich to be generous. They are not condemned for being wealthy; they are not told to give all their wealth away. What they are told is what not to do, and what to do with their riches.
Their riches must not make them proud. Because they have more money than other people they must not think themselves better than other people. Instead they are told that they must use their wealth to do good; that they must ever be ready to share; and that they must remember that a Christian is essentially a man or a woman who is a member of a fellowship, a community. And they are told that such wise use of wealth will build for them a good foundation in the world to come. As someone put it: "What I kept, I lost; what I gave I have."
The whole teaching of the Christian ethic is, not that wealth is a sin, but that wealth is a very great responsibility. If a person's wealth ministers to nothing but his own pride and enriches no one but himself, then his wealth becomes his destruction, because it has impoverished his soul. But if a person uses his wealth to bring help and comfort to others, in becoming poorer, he becomes richer. In time and in eternity "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
We must always be generous with our fellow man who needs our help but also we must be generous with God Who is always very generous with each and every one of us whether we are righteous or sinners.
Your offering to the Almighty Lord must always be a "love offering". If it is to have any value or to do any good, it must come from your heart and not out of obligation.
As the spiritual children of Saint Andrew the Apostle be kind and generous to your church. Support and be generous with your stewardship commitment, if you give oil for the lamps of the church do not give the smallest bottle of oil, when the tray is passed at the end of the Divine Liturgy give generously and not a dollar, unless you cannot give more. If you must be frugal, do it on things pertaining to your person and not to God and His Church. There is nothing wrong with frugality but a Christian implements it when it comes to things like, entertainment, trips, jewelry, clothes, cars, etc. etc.
"But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, who would betray Him, said, 'Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?' This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it. But Jesus said, 'Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always" (St. John 12:4-8).
Our Lord has always and will always be kind and generous to us but it is up to us to give of ourselves, our time, talent and treasure generously to the One Who we love and Who loves us unconditionally.
Never put conditions on your giving for your gifts then will be worthless and will do you no good at all.
With agape in Christ our Lord and Savior,