THE SERVANT GENERAL
FULFILLING GOD’S LAW
March 1, 2011
Today’s reading: Sirach 35:1-12
Today’s wisdom from Sirach gives us much input
about financial stewardship. Sirach starts off with
citing the law. “To keep the law is a great
oblation, and he who observes the commandments sacrifices
a peace offering.” (Sir 35:1). In other words,
keeping the law is very pleasing to God. It is the
pleasing sacrifice that He prefers.
tithing is part of the Mosaic law. When His people
started not keeping His laws, God Himself re-affirmed
tithing through the prophet Malachi. “Since
the days of your fathers you have turned aside from
my statutes, and have not kept them. Return to me,
and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.
Yet you say, ‘How must we return?’ Dare
a man rob God? Yet you are robbing me! And you say,
‘How do we rob you?’ In tithes and in
offerings!” (Mal 3:7-8).
we look to tithing and financial stewardship, knowing
that not to tithe is to rob God for which we become
accursed (Mal 3:9), but more especially, we must
know that keeping God’s law is what pleases
Him. We tithe not only because we fear God and the
consequences of disobeying Him, but because we love
Him and want to do what is pleasing to Him.
Now financial stewardship is not only about avoiding
the evil of disobeying God’s law, but it is
also about justice. “To refrain from evil
pleases the Lord, and to avoid injustice is an atonement.”
is justice? It is to give to the other person what
is his due. What is due to God? It is awe and worship.
Further, as we are seeing, it is the tithe.
we are to do justice to everyone, especially the
neighbor whom we are to love as ourselves. What
then is due to other people? It is the salvation
and fullness of life that Jesus came into the world
to bring. How does that happen? It happens as they
call on the name of the Lord and are saved, which
can only happen if there are people who are sent
to preach the good news (Rom 10:13-15a). God raises
up these proclaimers of the gospel. But in order
to bring the good news to all, to the ends of the
earth, money is needed. This money comes by way
of the tithes that we give to the Church and to
Christian groups such as CFC-FFL, which is basically
an evangelistic and missionary community.
“Appear not before the Lord empty-handed,
for all that you offer is in fulfillment of the
precepts.” (Sir 35:4).
often do Catholics go to Church and not give anything
in the collection basket? Do they give anything
at all beyond the collection at Mass? How many CFC-FFL
members do not go to the tithe table to give their
financial contribution? Or give money through their
come before the Lord in personal prayer, in household
and community assemblies, in conferences and events,
and we praise God for all He does in our lives,
including the bountiful provisions. But what do
we give back to Him, especially in helping provide
crucial resources with which to do His mission?
Do we appear before the Lord empty-handed because
we just want to take and be filled when we leave?
Then we are not there for God; we are there just
for ourselves. God’s verdict? “You are
indeed accursed, for you, the whole nation, rob
me.” (Mal 3:9).
the other hand, “The just man’s offering
enriches the altar and rises as a sweet odor before
the Most High.” (Sir 35:5). Our tithes do
not enrich the Church or the community. The money
is actually never enough for the mission. Everything
that comes in goes out. What the tithe does is enrich
the altar of sacrifice. It is a pleasing sacrifice
to God from His people who live out justice.
We are to give freely and generously, not only because
God commands it, but because we know how it pleases
God and greatly helps in the mission entrusted to
His people. “In generous spirit pay homage
to the Lord, be not sparing of freewill gifts.”
God speaks strongly about tithing, it is still something
that we decide to do. We have the free choice on
whether to give or not. Even if the tithe is an
obligation, it is still something that we decide
to give, thus it is a gift. God speaks strongly
but never forces anyone. God respects our free will.
Even when we are already moving to perdition and
doom, God will still not force us.
that it pleases God, fulfills the law, does justice,
helps bring the gospel to the world, we must then
recognize tithing as a privilege, and thus rejoice
in it. “With each contribution show a cheerful
countenance, and pay your tithes in a spirit of
joy.” (Sir 35:8). It does no good if we give
but are grudging or unhappy about having to part
with our money. We must see tithing not as what
it takes away from us, but what it gives us. In
the first place, all our money is God’s money,
but He allows us to keep 90% for ourselves.
the second place, the spiritual payback can be tremendous.
“For the Lord is one who always repays, and
he will give back to you sevenfold.” (Sir
35:10). In fact, it can even become so much more
than sevenfold. Here is the challenge God gives
to His people: “Bring the whole tithe into
the storehouse, that there may be food in my house,
and try me in this, says the Lord of hosts: Shall
I not open for you the floodgates of heaven, to
pour down blessing upon you without measure?”
(Mal 3:10). Wow! God is never outdone in generosity.
God says: try me. We give just 10%, and we get a
deluge of blessings!
We give because God first gave to us. God gave us
life, health, strength, family, work, community,
service, etc. God gave us salvation, through the
sacrifice of His very own Son Jesus, even when we
were the sinners who sent Jesus to the cross. For
us in CFC-FFL, God gave us a wonderful community
where we find pastoral support, Christian formation,
brotherhood, friendship, and many ways with which
we give back ourselves, including our financial
resources. “Give to the Most High as he has
given to you, generously, according to your means.”
(Sir 35:9). And because God has been generous to
us, we too must be generous in giving back. In this,
know that when you give a tithe, that is, 10%, you
are just fulfilling your obligation. There is no
generosity yet in that. So we ought to look to giving
even more than a tithe. In fact, as everything belongs
to God, we are to give totally of ourselves, loving
God with our whole strength, financial or otherwise.
We are to give according to our means. If rich,
then give so much more than 10%. If not so rich
and it seems 10% is difficult, then look to living
more simply so that there will be that 10% to give.
If poor, and no matter how you cut it the pie is
not going to yield that tithe, except to result
in hunger and deprivation for you and your loved
ones, then it is permissible not to give a full
tithe. But everyone, no matter one’s economic
circumstances, must give something. Further, even
for the very poor, there is always the challenge
of the widow who gave out of her poverty (Mk 12:41-44).
Finally, while we have spoken about how God will
not be outdone in generosity and we can look to
tremendous payback, we must never give because of
such reasons, which can become selfish. Our tithe
is not our way of making an investment to which
we look to financial or other gains. “But
offer no bribes, these he does not accept!”
God is actually talking about not giving him dirty
money. “Trust not in sacrifice of the fruits
of extortion” (Sir 35:11b). At the end of
the day, our tithing is not about just fulfilling
the law, and not just helping out on mission, but
is about being the people that God intends for us
to be. We are called to be a holy people, who conduct
our lives with integrity, including the ways we
make money. And we are a people who see money not
as an end in itself, but just as a means with which
to do God’s work and thus to glorify Him.
Thus financial stewardship is very important in
our life in Christ. Financial stewardship includes
tithing, resource sharing and almsgiving. “In
works of charity one offers fine flour, and when
he gives alms he presents his sacrifice of praise.”
(Sir 35:2). When we do these, we fulfill the law,
but more importantly, live as children and servants
stewardship is not easy and is challenging. But
apart from providing for the needs of the Church
for mission, it is also God’s way of forming
us. The hardest to let go is often our pocketbooks.
When we sacrifice our own needs in order to obey
God’s law, when we are willing to simplify
our lives further so that we can give more money
to God’s work, when we choose to serve only
God and not mammon, then God is pleased. “The
just man’s sacrifice is most pleasing, nor
will it ever be forgotten.” (Sir 35:6).
starter for household meeting:
Discuss the ways by which you are responding
to the call to true financial stewardship,
including giving a tithe. Are you accursed
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