Not Only What We Do But How We Do It (Sun. July 24)

The word for the day is “with.” As long as the job is done, does it matter how we do it? Does our attitude make a difference? If we give a meal to someone who is hungry but do with disdain, doesn’t the person still get fed? And if we give an offering grudgingly, can’t the church still use the money for good?

In today’s reading of Romans 12:6-14, Paul lists the “grace-gifts” of the Holy Spirit that are distributed among the members of the church. He states, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given us, let us use them” (Romans 12:6). Today we will discover that the apostle not only urges that the faithful put the Holy Spirit’s gifts to work for ministry. But he is concerned that they do it with attitudes by which they are employed. Today we will review the qualities that should accompany our service to the Lord and His people.

Not to Give Only But to Give with Generosity

In our reading of Romans 12:6-14 today, St. Paul lists the “grace-gifts” of the Holy Spirit for ministry in the Body of Christ. The apostle goes on to list actions that the faithful should perform. St. John Chrysostom points out something here that we might otherwise overlook. Chrysostom writes: “See how in every instance he aims after higher degrees; for he does not say “give” only, but “with largess…” (NfPf1: 11, 503).

With that in mind, note how often the Apostle uses the word “with.” For example, he says that we are to give with liberality; lead with diligence; show mercy with cheerfulness, love without hypocrisy. You see, St. Paul not only wants us to do what he advises. He is concerned about the spirit in which we do it. The manner is just as important as the doing. And when he goes on to speak of the virtues that are proper to believers, he also modifies them. In each case, he speaks of the quality of the characteristic. For instance, he speaks of diligence that is not lazy; spirit that is fervent, hope that rejoices, endurance of tribulation that is patient, and praying that is steadfast.

With What Attitudes Do We Use Our Gifts

Thus, if we sort out the words about the actions of believers we have giving, leading, showing mercy, and loving.  Likewise, the kind of attitudes that we should have as we do these things are liberality, diligence, cheerfulness, and genuineness. Moreover, if we sort out the virtues that St. Paul goes on to add to the virtues, we find diligence, spirit, hope, endurance, and prayerfulness. And if we sort out the qualities of these traits of character, we have industriousness, fervor, joyfulness, patience, steadfastness.

For Reflection

In conclusion, we should keep in mind that results are not the only thing that matters when we minister to others. The spirit in which we carry out our service also counts. Chrysostom says that when we add the appropriate attitude to what we do, we “draw the Spirit” to ourselves (NfPf1:11, 503). Then the Spirit will abide in us and make our labors in the Lord easy. Moreover, we will “glow with the Spirit” (NfPf1:11, 503) as we serve. Many non-believers love, are affectionate, and give to the needy, etc. It is the attitude of the Spirit that distinguishes those who follow the way of Christ from others.

About Fr. Basil

Now retired, the Very Rev. Archpriest Basil Ross Aden has served as a parish priest, parish pastor, diocesan mission director, writer, and college teacher of New Testament and Religious Studies. He has a Master of Theology and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the University of Chicago and has published daily devotional and stewardship materials as well as a college textbook on Religious Studies. He also has published papers and/or lectured on the Orthodox perspective on Luther and the Reformation. religious freedom, current issues of religion and society, and St. John Chrysostom. He is married to Sandra and has two sons and three grandchildren. He is still active as a priest as well as a writer of articles and materials on Orthodoxy and topics of faith and life today.

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