Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”
Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
ENGAGED: The Call to Be Disciples
Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19-20
Stewardship: Giving to God What Belongs to God—Part Twelve
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. Psalm 127:1
Good morning Prayer Team!
When we talk about stewardship in our parishes, most people know the buzz words “time, talent and treasure.” And most people when they think of stewardship think of giving money to the church. Most people group “time” and “talent” together. For instance, if one serves on the parish council or sings in the choir, they think that their service involves both their talent and their time. I recently heard something about stewardship that changed my view of the stewardship of time. So, let us discuss the three aspects of stewardship.
There is no question about what the stewardship of treasure is. It’s what we give monetarily to the church. Many people argue how much the appropriate amount is. Is it ten percent? Or two percent? Or just a flat amount like $500. What we give says a lot about us. As we hear in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (6:21) It bears asking the question, “do we spend more on Starbucks coffee than we offer to the church?” No one is suggesting we pay more to the church than we pay for our mortgage or for food. But does the cable bill, alcohol, movie tickets, magazine subscriptions, I-phone, etc. all come ahead of what we give to Christ? Because when we give to the church, we are not giving to a building or a group of people. We are giving to Christ Himself. Because the church exists to spread His message, to do His work.
Now let’s look at stewardship of talent. We know that each of us has abilities, and we are supposed to use these abilities to help the ministry of the church. Some sing in the choir, others are involved in teaching Sunday school, and others serve on the finance committee. The church needs diverse skills from its parishioners to carry off both its maintenance and mission.
Most people lump stewardship of time and talent together. For instance if someone serves on the Parish Council or sings in the choir, they will say that they give both time and talent. However, I recently heard a different definition of the stewardship of time. Time is what we personally give to growing in our faith. Time includes the time we spend praying, worshipping, reading the Bible, going to Bible study and growing in our faith. There are people who give lots of money and lots of talent but give no time to their faith. For instance, someone could give $100,000 a year to the church and be in charge of the church financial records, but never go to church or read the Bible or pray.
The stewardship of TIME is actually the most important stewardship that we offer. Because if we have no sense of faith or sense of God, then why are we offering talent and treasure? To whom are we offering it? The church is our vessel toward salvation but salvation is from God Himself. It is important that we spend time with God on a daily basis. Most people put stewardship in a compartment, and that is true if we limit our definition of stewardship to talent and treasure. However, when we define stewardship of time as time spent with the Lord, then our whole life becomes about stewardship. Because we may cut a check once a month, or offer a talent once a week but we are offering time every day, throughout the day.
As the Psalm says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” (Psalm 127:1) Stewardship is not about money. It’s about life. And it’s about putting God at the center of our lives, every day.
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he give to his beloved sleep. Lo, sons are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. Psalm 127
Evaluate how much time you spend with the Lord on a daily basis!
With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now.
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
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