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||    Pope Shenouda    ||    Father Matta    ||    Bishop Mattaous    ||    Fr. Tadros Malaty    ||    Bishop Moussa    ||    Bishop Alexander    ||    Habib Gerguis    ||    Bishop Angealos    ||    Metropolitan Bishoy    ||



One of the beautiful phrases said about this topic is that of St Paul the Apostle to the elders of the Church in Ephesus, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus Christ who said:

“It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).  Why did the Lord bless giving?  No doubt, for many reasons:




In giving, you share what you have with others.  But it is more appropriate to say that you share your money with God Himself.  Not only when you give to the church, but also when you give to those who are in need. Didn’t the Lord say: “... 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”. And He explained this in all His sayings about those who are in need:

“... In as much as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me”  (Mt 25:35-40).

Then what you give to one of the needy, you actually give to the Lord
Himself.  Whether it was food for the hungry, clothes to the naked... or just a
visit to a sick person or to one in prison...  This visit is also a type of giving,
where you give love and sharing of feelings.  It is giving of the soul and not
of the body...


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Giving then is the sharing of yourself with others.


The one who is withdrawn within himself keeps away from others, does
not want to take or give.  A selfish person likes to always take but not to
give.  A sociable person takes and gives.  But the selfless giver is the one
who always gives without taking.  He puts others before himself...


He always takes from himself to give to others.

That is how the virtue of giving is always mixed with self-denial.  In it,
the self is always placed last while others are given priority.  One does not
think about his personal needs and requirements but gives preference to oth-
ers.  That is what the widow of Zarephath did at the time of the famine when
she offered the Prophet Elijah the handful of flour and the little oil that she
had.  Therefore God greatly blessed her home (1 Kings 17:11-19).


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The widow who put two mites into the treasury did the same.  The Lord blessed her more than anybody else.  Why?  Because:

“She out of her poverty has put in all the livelihood that she had”  (Lk

And it was not only out of her poverty, but also because “she put in all
the livelihood that she had,
” everything that she possessed.  We see here the
same principle that we mentioned before, which is giving preference to oth-
ers...  Let others live even if I die.  I will satisfy others needs, or help in satis-
fying what they need, no matter how much I myself am in need.  In the Lord’s
blessing of this widow, we notice an important rule, which is:


That God looks at the depth of giving and not at its amount.


Among the features of this depth is the linking of giving to love.  You
love to give and you love the one you give to.  Therefore the giving which
benefits you spiritually is that which you give without discontent, complaint
or compulsion, but with all feelings of satisfaction and joy.  As the Bible said:


“God loves a cheerful giver”  (2 Cor 9:7).


You love the one who is in need and urged by this love, you give him. Your love shows in your treatment when you give.  The needy would feel your love and that would make him more joyful than his joy with what he took.  He takes from you feelings before he takes material things.  And he would feel that your giving is not a type of formality but a sentiment and contribution.  You too when you give him would not be less joyful, like the mother who rejoices when she gives to her son, a joy that precedes the giving, and accompanies it because of her son’s joy..

The Bible gives us an example of the people’s joy when they were giving to build the temple during the time of the Prophet David.

The Bible says : “then the people rejoiced, for they had offered willingly, be-
cause with a loyal heart they gave to the Lord;  and King David also rejoiced greatly

David then blessed the Lord before all the congregation and said:  “But who
am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly as this?
For all things come from You, and of Your own we have given You... O Lord our
God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build You a house for Your holy
name is from Your hand, and is all Your own
”  (1 Chron 29:9,14,16).


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It is a beautiful phrase “Of  Your own we have given You.”


We own nothing.  Each of us should say what the Righteous Job said:
Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there” (Job 1:21).
And all that we possess at present, we also say about it with Job: “The Lord
”, and with David, we say to the Lord: “Of Your own and all is for You.”
Therefore it is good for us, every time we give to the Lord, to say: “Of Your
own we have given You.


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Truly, it is humility from God who is Almighty and infinite, to take
from us.

He is giving us a chance to express our feelings.  Exactly like the father
who accepts a gift from his son, so the son expresses his feelings of love to-
wards his father, while the money paid for the gift is also from his father.
As if he is saying to him: “Of Your own we have given You” ...  God, the source
of all richness,
“The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness”  (Ps 24:1).  God who
satisfies all the living from His goodness, due to His love, He likes us to share
with Him in looking after His house and His children, and He rewards us
for that...


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He gives us what we give Him and rewards us when we give...  And in all that, He trains us to give.



He gives us life and existence.  Then He says to us: in every week that I
give you, give Me one day which is called “The day of the Lord”...  And I will
give you possessions and in all that I give you, give Me the tithes...  And in
all that, we say to Him : Lord, of Your own we have given You...  You who
gave us and to those whom we have given.  You also gave us the love of


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Give me health and strength and with them I will serve You.


Whenever I get tired in serving You and whenever I give in serving You,
I do not ever consider that I have given anything...  Because health is from
You, strength is from You, the love to serve is also from You.  Even I, my-
self, am from You.  It was possible not to be born or to exist.  You gave me
this existence by which I serve You, and gave me the word to speak...  In all
my service and my labour for You, I say: “Of Your own we have given You.”




Therefore in all this, giving should be without glory.


Whether it be by the tongue, by the heart, by feelings from inside or by the thoughts...  As if you have given from what is yours!!...  I remember here the depth of the words that the Apostle said: “What do you have that you did not receive?  Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you glory as if you had not received it?” (1 Cor 4:7)...  And if all that we give, we received from God, would not our glory in giving be in vain?!


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Therefore God commanded that giving should be in secret.


He said: “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them.  Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.”  And He said, “... Your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly”  (Mt 6:1,4).     And God does not mean to keep your deed secret from people only, but from yourself also.  Do not count and check on how much you have given, but:




“Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing”  (Mt


Do not mention how much you have given and do not recall how much you have given...  Do not count your gifts but try to forget them all, lest the devil of vain glory fights you with that and also lest you receive your rewards on earth by glorifying yourself...


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It was told about St Milania at the beginning of her spiritual life, before
becoming a nun, that she used to offer much to the monasteries and to the
monks...  It happened once that she put five hundred pieces of gold in a bag
and gave it to Abba Bemwah to give to the monks who lived in the inner
wilderness.  The saint called his disciple, gave him the bag without opening
it and asked him to distribute the contents among these monks...  Here,
Milania said: “But you have not opened it, father, to know how much is in
it?”  The saint replied: “If you have given this money to God, then God knows
how much it is” ...  And this was a lesson for Milania.


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Another quality of giving is liberality.


The Bible says: “He who gives, with liberality”  (Rom 12:8).     He also com-
mands us to be: “Ready to give, willing to share”  (1 Tim 6:18), and says: “He
who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also
reap bountifully
” (2 Cor 9:6), and the Lord justifies that by saying: “For with
the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you
”  (Lk 6:38).


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Then it is not enough to give, but to be generous in giving.


We have a beautiful example in the Bible about Araunah the Jebusite,
when King David wanted to buy the threshing-floor from him to build an
altar to the Lord.  Araunah rejoiced for that and wanted to donate the thresh-
ing-floor and whatever was on it.  So he said to David: “
Let my lord the King
take and offer up whatever seems good to him.  Look, here are oxen for burnt sacri-
fice, and threshing implements and the yokes of the oxen for wood
” (2 Sam 24:22).
Araunah offered everything to the King, but David said: “No, but I will surely
buy it from you for a price;  nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with

that which costs me nothing” ...  Each of them wanted to pay cheerfully, joyfully and with liberality...

Let us remember the story of our father Abraham when three men visited him:

He said to our mother Sarah: “Quickly, make ready three measures of fine meal;
knead it and make cakes.”  And Abraham ran to the herd, took a tender, good calf,
gave it to a young man and he hastened to prepare it.  So he took butter and milk
and the calf which he had prepared, and set it before them
” (Gen 18:6-8)...  Do

three men need three measures of meal... and a complete calf, adding to that butter and milk?  Or was it the liberality of our father Abraham?...  It was his joy with the guests and he wanted for all to eat with them, his men and the shepherds to eat from the calf and the freshly baked bread...


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With the same liberality in giving, so God treats us...


And so He said: “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be put into your bosom”  (Lk 6:38). And also: “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse...  and prove me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts: “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it...” (Mal 3:10). It was also said: “Honour the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase;  so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine”  (Prov 3:9).


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One of the verses that also call to liberality in giving is the Lord’s say-



“...Go, sell what you have and give to the poor”  (Mt 19:21).


And also: “Sell what you have and give alms”  (Lk 12:33).  The Lord said:
“Give to everyone who asks of you, and from him who takes away your goods do not
ask them back” (Lk 6:30).  The Bible also says: “He who has two tunics, let him
give to him who has none, and he who has food, let him do likewise
” (Lk 3:11).


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+  To give without being asked to do so.  This is what our Father in
heaven does for us.  This is also what the father and the mother do with
their children.  Have sensitivity towards people’s needs without waiting for
them to ask you.

+  Do not postpone giving.  Delay may cause harm to those who are in
need.  The Bible says about this: “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is
due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so.  Do not say to your neighbour
“Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it, when you have it with you”  (Prov


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+  Train yourself to give from the best that you have.


Many do not give except the old and torn clothes and what is out of order or rejected by them...  They are in fact giving these to Christ, as well as to the poor.  Would that in all this we remember the offerings of Cain and Abel, as it was said that: “Abel also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat.  And the Lord respected Abel and his offering” (Gen 4:4). “Of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat” means of the best of what he had.




History gave us amazing examples of giving.


St Abraam, the Bishop of Fayoum and St Sarabamoun of the veil, the
Bishop of Manoufia, and their many amazing stories of giving. Now how-
ever, time does not permit us to discuss their lives...  and St John the Merci-
ful who sold everything and gave to the poor.  Then when there was noth-
ing else to sell, he sold himself as a slave and gave the money paid for him
to the poor.  St Serapion also gave his tunic to a poor man who was naked,
then sold his Bible also and gave the price to the poor . When his disciple
asked him about that, he answered him saying: “The Bible said to me go
and sell all you have and give the poor.  So I sold it, as there was nothing
else in my possession.”

During the Apostolic period, it was said : “All who were possessors of lands
or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid
them at the Apostles
’ feet;  and they distributed to each as anyone had need”  (Acts


Where is our giving then, compared to them!




God shares in your possessions to bless them, not to take from them, as
He is the source of all riches.  He shares in your possessions to make you
share in the good deeds that He is capable of doing on His own.  But, be-
cause of His humility, He loves to see good deeds being done by you.


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The most ancient sharing of God in what He gave man was the sacrifices and burnt offerings.

It is a very old matter, older than the written law.  It is even since the
creation of man.  The Bible tells us about the offering of the Righteous Abel
and says: “Abel also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat.  And the
respected Abel and his offering” (Gen 4:4). Maybe Abel took the idea of
bringing sacrifices and burnt offerings from his father, Adam, who took it
from God Himself.  We see here how the tradition of bringing sacrifices and
burnt offerings to God started, with the symbolism that they contained.


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And so the idea of sacrifices and burnt-offerings continued in the human race.

We hear about the burnt offerings offered by our father Noah on an al-
tar, after he got out of the ark.  And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma (Gen
8:20-21). And we hear about the burnt offerings of our father Abraham (Gen
12), and the burnt offerings of the Righteous Job (Job 1:5) ...  And the sacri-
fices and burnt offerings were organised in the written law, in the Book of
Leviticus at the time of the Prophet Moses, and it contained much symbol-


And although Christ’s sacrifice replaced the lamb of the Passover (Ex
12) and replaced the burnt offering, the sin offering and the trespass offer-
ing, the peace offering was used to express thanks and gratitude to God from
which the person offering it eats with his friends;  many still offer it to this
day in a manner that differs from that of the Old Testament in many de-




We move to another point which is the tithes...


The tithes also are more ancient than the written law.  We hear about
our father Jacob when he saw a ladder set up on the earth and its top reached
to heaven, that he said:
“If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am
going, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my
God...  And of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You
”  (Gen 28:20-

Maybe Jacob took the idea of the tithes from his grandfather Abraham, who offered the tithes to Melchizedek the priest of God Most High: “And he gave Him a tithe of all”  (Gen 14:20).



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Then God commanded the tithes in the law at the time of the Prophet

He said: “You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field pro-
duces year by year
”  (Deut 14:22)  “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed
of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s.  It is holy to the Lord...” (Lev
27:30), “You may not eat within your gates the tithe of your grain or your new
wine or your oil”  (Deut 12:17) and (Deut 14:23),  “And concerning the tithe of the
herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the
Lord”  (Lev 27:32).  Generally, the tax collector summed up all this in one
sentence: “
I give tithes of all that I possess” (Lk 18:12), or the saying of our

father Jacob, the father of fathers: “And of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You”  (Gen 28:22).


Even the priest who took the tithes from the people, used to offer its tithe to the Lord, a heave offering to the Lord.  And the tithe of the tithes was called heaves (Num 18:26,28).

The one who did not pay the tithes was considered to have robbed

That was openly said in the Book of Malachi, when the Lord said: “Will a man rob God?  Yet you have robbed Me!  But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’  In tithes and offerings...  Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,... And prove Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, ‘if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it”  (Mal 3:8-10).


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What you do not pay in tithes is unrighteous mammon.


Because you have robbed the Lord, were unjust to the church and the
poor, the righteous owners of this money...  Therefore the Lord said: “
friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon”  (Lk 16:9). Those friends are the
poor who pray for you, so:
“They may receive you into everlasting habitations.”

Even if you were in need, pay the tithes, taking the widow who put in all her livelihood as a model (Lk 21:4). Maybe some will ask here:


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May we give to our relatives from the tithes?!


Yes, give them if they are in need.  As the Apostle said: “But if anyone
does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied
the faith and is worse than an unbeliever
”  (1 Tim 5:8)...  Then give them, but do
not give to them alone.  Lest it is thought that it is just a duty or blood-rela-
tion that made you pay.  If you paid the whole to them, then you would
have withheld the due of the poor who deserve it too or who may be in more
need for it than relatives...


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All the money that you receive, set aside its tithe for the Lord...


Whether it was your fixed pay or other additional resources, or unex-
pected gains.  Whether it is cash or in assets that you know their value then
you pay the tithe...  Set aside the tithe of all, put it separately in a box espe-
cially for the Lord.  Do not fall in the error where many do fall: as they spend
from their income first, then check to see if there was anything left for God
or not!!  They put the Lord’s due at the end of the list, or they may even
forget it!  Or they may consider their other expenses under the title of neces-
sities.  As for the Lord’s due, it is considered as luxuries or left over!  As for
you, set it aside from your income immediately, just like other official de-


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You should know that the tithes are the minimum in giving.


It comes under the Jewish giving and not the Christian.  As for Christi-
anity, the Bible says: “Give to him who asks you”( Mt 5:42). The Bible also says:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth...  but lay up for yourselves treas-
ures in heaven”  (Mt 6:19,20). Then you should not be satisfied with paying
the tithes, without giving those who are in need while you have what you


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When you pay the tithes, do not say that you have given God His due!! Or that He has received all His dues.

Then your conscience will relax, and you will close your heart to the
requests of the needy!  As the Bible says: “Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of
the poor will also cry himself and not be heard
”  (Prov 21:13)...  Let love be firm
in your heart, and do not deal with God, the church or the poor mathemati-
cally, without a heart!!  And whenever you get a chance to do a merciful
deed, do not close your heart, using the excuse that you have already paid
the tithes...


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In your giving, elevate yourself above the level of the tax collector...


As the Lord Jesus Christ, to Him is the glory, said: “Unless your right-
exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means
enter the Kingdom of Heaven”  (Mt 5:20).  The scribes and Pharisees, no doubt,
used to pay the tithes.  Then you must pay more.  Do not be a lawyer taking
the law literally.  But in your giving, deal with your heart and your love.  Do
not be neglectful of the poor with your possessions.  Remember the Lord’s
saying: “
If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and
you will have treasure in heaven”  (Mt 19:21), and when you hear these words,
do not go away sorrowfully like the young man who was first to hear them...


But the tithes are not all God’s sharing in your possessions.


There is also the commandment of the firstlings:




We hear  about the firstlings in the offering of the righteous Abel who: “Brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat” (Gen 4:4), which meant the best he had.  That was of course before the written Law...  But in the Law of Moses, God organised the firstlings in everything, whether man or animal or fruits of the trees.  About the first-born, the Lord said:

“Sanctify to Me all the first-born, whatever opens the womb both of man and animal;  it is Mine” (Ex 13:2).

And the first-born among all the people used to be for the Lord to serve
Him, till they were replaced by the house of Levi and the house of Aaron.
They are symbolically and spiritually the first-born...  Even after choosing
the house of Levi, the first-born kept its place as holy to the Lord, and a sac-
rifice was offered for him in the Temple.  And so it was said about the Lord
Jesus Christ that on the fortieth day of His birth:
“They brought Him to Jerusa-
lem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “every male
who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”, and to offer a sacrifice accord-
ing to what is said in the Law of the Lord”  (Lk 2:22,23).


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What then do we offer the Lord of our children?!


Does not giving include children also?!  If not every first-born, then at least some of the children...  If not the only son, like our father Abraham when he took his only son Isaac to offer him, then at least one of the sons... whether he be required for the Lord as a priest, a monk or for the service of consecration, whatever it may be...


Offering the firstlings is stronger than the tithes...


Because it is all one possesses at that time, as when Hannah offered her
only son Samuel to the Lord, and also John the Baptist, the only son of
Zacharias and Elizabeth.  The Lord Jesus Christ is also the first-born of the
Virgin and also her only son, not only at the time of His birth, but all through
her life...  The first-born has his great status and has his joy.  Offering him to
the Lord means giving priority to the Lord over oneself, in respect of the

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The commandment of the first-born was not restricted to the first-born
son, but included all that is first-born.  So the Lord asked for the first of :


The seed of the land and the fruits of the trees.


And He said about that: “The first of the first-fruits of your land you shall
bring into the house of the Lord your God” (Ex 23:19), and, “You shall bring a

sheaf of the first-fruits of your harvest to the priest.  He shall wave the sheaf before
the Lord, to be accepted on your behalf
” (Lev 23:10), and, “You shall take some of
the first of all the produce of the ground... put it in a basket... And you shall go to
the one who is the priest in those days...  Then you shall set it before the Lord your
”  (Deut 26:2-10).


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The Lord also commanded concerning the first-born of the animals.


He said:  “You shall set apart to the Lord all that open the womb, that is, every
firstling that comes from an animal which you have;  the males shall be the Lord’s.
But every firstling of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb
”  (Ex 13:12,13)...  “All
that open the womb are Mine, and every male firstling among your live-stock, whether
ox or sheep.  But the firstling of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb
”  (Ex 34:19).




And also the first of the ground meal...


Even when they used to bake the ground meal for bread, it was said in the Book of Ezekiel: “You shall give to the priest the first of your ground meal, to cause a blessing to rest on your house”  (Ezek 44:30).

And so the Lord takes from the firstlings of all that you possess.  You
make the Lord first in everything.  He is the first to take from your trees,
your land, your sheep and your cattle and also the first in your children.  So
the Lord blesses all.  And even when the Levites replaced the first-born, it
was required to offer a sacrifice for their first-born to redeem him, so the
Lord said:
“And all the first-born of man among your sons you shall redeem”  (Ex


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How do we then fulfil the commandment of the firstling these days?


Not all people’s possessions are of the produce of land, sheep or cattle. In our present time:

+  You give to the Lord the first pay that you receive from your job, preferably the first month of your pay.


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+  You also offer the Lord your first pay rise and the first increase when you are promoted and the first allowance and the first pay for over-time work. For a doctor, that could be, for example, the fees of the first patient or the first surgery.  For the teacher, it is the first private lesson...  And so on with all the other vocations.

Adding to the tithes and the firstlings, God has another sharing in your possessions, that is:


God’s right in vows:






The vows are different from the tithes and the firstlings.  It is your prom-
ise before God, in  case something good is being granted to you by God, or
support in a specific manner or being saved from a hardship.  One of the
most beautiful and comprehensive sayings about the vows in the Bible is
what is written in the Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 5, as it includes:


Paying the vow without delay and without change...


It was said: “When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it;  for He has
no pleasure in fools.  Pay what you have vowed.  It is better not to vow than to vow
and not pay”  (Eccles 5:4,5). “Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your
heart utter anything hastily before God..., nor say before the messenger of God that
it was an error.  Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of
your hands?
” (Eccles 5:2,6).


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When we talk about vows, we mean either a vow about money or a vow about life...

Do not rush and make a vow to God about something that later on you
might not be able to carry out.  For example, do not vow your virginity while
in a state of spiritual excitement then realize that you are unable to live this
life.  Instead of the vow, offer your desire as a prayer.  Say to Him:  “Lord,
this is my heart’s desire.  If You see that it is good and possible for me, grant
it and give me the strength to carry it out.  Let it be according to Your will in
my life.”


Another point in God’s sharing in your possessions is:




The oblations, by which you come closer to God:


The church remembers all these gifts in the “Prayer for the Oblations”...
Those who present to the church the wine, the oils, the incense, the cover-
ings of the altar, the books of the readings and vessels of the altar, and asks


the Lord to give them things incorruptible in place of things corruptible, heav-
enly in place of earthly, eternal in place of temporal, those in abundance or
those in scarcity.  The church even prays for “those who desire to offer to
You and have none,” which means those who have the intention of offering.


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So, do you have a share in the Prayer for the Oblations?


Some, for example, like to offer pure flour for the “Offertory”.  Some ask first about what the church needs then offer them, instead of people offering tens of Prospharines (altar’s veil) while the church needs other items that are necessary.  Or others offer many icons that the church has no need of and with no artistic harmony.


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The Bible presents to us other examples of caring about the poor.


For example, the Bible says: “When you reap the harvest of your land, you
shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather
any gleaning from your harvest.  You shall leave them for the poor and for the
” (Lev 23:22), and the Bible also says: “Six years you shall sow your
land and gather in its produce, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fal-
low, that the poor of your people may eat;  and what they leave, the beasts of the field
may eat.  In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove
”  (Ex
23:10,11).     How do we apply this spiritual principle in non-agricultural life?...



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What sums up the words of the Bible about giving is the Lord’s saying:

“None shall appear before Me empty” (Ex 23:15) and (Ex 34:20).

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