Easy to Say-Hard to Do
By Father Andrew Harrison
The first of the core values according to the results of the study done
by our strategic planning committee is "putting God first in all that we do." This is
easy to say and hard to do. It is similar to the question St. Herman asked a group of
sailors who were traveling to Alaska.
Sailing during the 18th century was a very dangerous occupation. Both
St. Herman and all the sailors knew about the drowning of Bishop Joaseph and his
entire missionary team when they were caught in a violent storm on their way to Alaska.
Sailors, because of the peril they faced by their occupation, tended to be religious. St.
Herman asked them if they loved God. They replied, "Yes, of course." The sailors were
surprised when St. Herman said, "I haven't even begun to love God." If St. Herman could
say that about himself even though he devoted his entire life to Christ by "preaching the
Gospel to all nations," what can we say about putting God first in everything we do? Easy
to say-hard to do.
Even though putting God first in our lives is hard to do, we should not
throw up our hands and not try. We have examples of ordinary church members who tried to
put God first and were successful. We call them saints. From their example maybe we
should instead say, "Easy to say-hard to attain."
November is stewardship month at St. Luke. It is the month when I
preach on passages from the scriptures about giving, generosity, and tithing. It has two
practical purposes: to support our annual budget and to help you avoid the sin of greed.
Greed is a sin where we put money first instead of God. We are all
infected with the sin of greed. This is how our society operates. The fallacy of this is
seen in the parable of the foolish rich man who built bigger barns. How many of us have
been rich fools watching our 401Ks growing and thinking about the joys of retirement.
"Eat, drink, and make merry." However, now we see our retirement disappear with the
fluctuations in the market. Jesus calls us to build treasures in heaven where the
fluctuations in the market have no effect.
The way to build treasures in heaven is to commit to giving either
directly to the needy or through the ongoing ministry of the church, which helps not only
the poor, but helps you. How we decide how much to give is related to where we put God in
our life. Is He a leftover? Do we give to Him after we have taken out our personal needs
and wants? Do we give of our time by attending church regularly or only when we have
nothing better to do on Sunday morning?
If we are going to put God first in everything we do, we can begin with
giving. The Biblical model of giving is to give a percentage of income off the top and
give it on Sunday (1 Corinthians 16:2, 2 Corinthians 9: 5-10). This is called tithing. It
can be a portion of a tithe or a full tithe of ten percent.
Although we are to give freely expecting nothing in return, God does
promise to bless us with an abundance to support our generosity. The more we give the more
we get (1 Cor. 9: 6-8). Let us make our 2003 giving express the first of our core values:
putting God first in everything we do including our charitable giving.