My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,
Christ is in our midst! He was, is, and ever shall be.
FRUGALITY AND CHRISTIAN GIVING
Saint Paul speaking on giving says, "But this I say: He who sows sparingly, will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work" (2 Cor. 6-8).
Giving is an expression of our sincere love for the Lord, for the Lord's people, the Lord's work, and the Lord's Church. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ loved and gave us so much. He became poor to give rich gifts to all of us. Since we know it, how do we express it? By our giving. This gives a much better insight about giving. I'm not saying that Christ always appreciates big amounts. The widow gave only two copper coins (St. Luke 21:2-3) - the Lord praised her. Two copper coins. She gave everything that she had. A Jewish copper coin had the lowest value, like a penny. Yet this sacrificial offering by the "poor widow" is praised by Him. You see the value of a gift derives from the spirit in which it is given. A gift that seeks recognition loses spiritual value; a gift made from the heart gains immense value.
Our Benevolent and Merciful God always provides for all. I have witnessed this in my own personal life. I recall when I, as a five year old boy and my sister Ioanna, travelled to Athens so that my father could find work soon after the civil war in Greece and how God came to our aid. It was a winter-like evening and we found ourselves literally out in the cold not knowing anyone and having no money. My father took us to an open café so he could think of what to do. A complete stranger, the only one there, drinking his coffee, came over and spoke to my father. Very politely says to my father "Sir I see you and your children came from the country and I was wondering if you have a place to stay tonight?" my father said unfortunately no. "No matter," said the stranger, "you and the children will come and stay with my family and you can stay as long as you need." What a gift! What kindness! What Christian love! That is true giving!
God will record in the 'books of life' all we have done or not done in life. "The King will say to hose on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 'for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to see Me." Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, an come to You?' "And the King will answer and say to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of My brethren, you did it to Me." (St. Matthew 25: 34-40).
Giving from the heart is very much like an investment just like a farmer investing in the seed. A farmer sows the seed in his field. An ignorant bystander will say, "Why do you throw away all your seeds in the field?" The farmer will say, "No, I am not throwing it away. I'm planting it and I'm going to reap 100-fold." That's what giving is all about. If you give, Christ will give you more. It is a fact that I've been told by fellow Christians of our Church, if you give, the Lord will give you more. The more you give, the Lord will bless you even more so that you are able to do more, and more, and more. Yes, it's absolutely true.
Cheap and frugal people both love to save money, but frugal people will not do so at the expense of others. Cheapness uses price as a bottom line; frugality uses value as a bottom line. Being cheap is about spending less; being frugal is about prioritizing your spending so that you can have more of the things you really care about. Those who are cheap are often afraid to spend money. They are willing to sacrifice quality, value and time in order to cash in on some short-term savings.
The question, however, is why are some are frugal only when it comes to God and His Church? It hurts some to be generous knowing that whatever they have is God's. Remember the words in the Divine Liturgy? "Τά Σά εκ των Σων Σοι προσφέρομεν κατά πάντα και δια πάντα" ("Thine own of Thine own we offer to Thee, in all (time) and for all (kindness to us"). We have nothing of our own to give to God except that which is already His. Giving must be out of gratitude to God for all that He has given us.
One must not find reasons and justifications for not contributing to his/her church. Our giving must be measured by our commitment and God's abundant blessings bestowed upon us. The church must not struggle financially indefinitely. The stewards of the church should make every possible effort not only to meet its annual budget but to have enough funds to maintain, improve, and expend the facility as needed it.
After, approximately 40 years since its construction, the facility, is in great need of improvement and renovation. The church white walls have been painted recently and thanks to an anonymous donor it will not cost the parish anything at all. The members of the parish council and I will seek out others within the parish to help with other aspects of the badly needed renovation. Please do your very best to help with the project.
With agape in His Diakonia,