Daily Devotion, January 9: God Is Philanthropic to All People

Daily Devotion, January 9: God Is Philanthropic to All People

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For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by men and hating one another; but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit.  Titus 3:3-5

 

Good morning Prayer Team!

For You are a good and loving God and to You we give glory, to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages.  Amen.

 As we continue through the Liturgy, we end the second “small litany” with an “ekphonesis,” a statement glorifying the Trinity which is the traditional ending to every set of petitions.  Each “ekphonesis” is different, because there are so many ways to describe and glorify God.  This “ekphonesis” praises God as “agathos” (good) and “philanthropos” (in most translations of the liturgy, this word is translated as “loving” but from this word in Greek, we get the words “philanthropic” and “philanthropy”).

Philanthropic (and all associated words) literally means “friend of man.” God is “philanthropic” to all people, meaning that He welcomes all people to Him.  In like manner, we are supposed to be philanthropic.  Ideally, everyone should be our friend.  That is not possible or even practical, but we are supposed to approach people in a way that is friendly and welcoming.  Every Sunday at church, we encounter people who are new—do we welcome them, or stay away from them?  We encounter new people all the time in life—if you look carefully at yourself, are you a welcoming and encouraging person who “let’s people in” or are you stand-offish, with a hard shell that few people can break through.  Most people give off a “vibe” as either one or the other.  Make it a goal to work on the kind of vibe you give off.  If you give off the vibe that says “I’m welcoming, accessible and safe,” then you will have the greater opportunity to be the philanthropic person that the Lord calls us to be.  The Lord is welcoming, accessible and safe and He asks the same from us.  In fact, one of the first steps in being able to love your neighbor is developing yourself to be a “philanthropos”, a friend of people, instead of someone who is not welcoming of people.

When we think of philanthropy, we also think about charitable giving.  Charitable giving, is giving with no expectation of return or reward.  It is selfless giving.  It is JOYFUL, selfless giving.  No matter what we have in life, we are supposed to give some of it back, joyfully, to those who are less fortunate than we are.  We develop this sense of philanthropy as we come to understand that everything we have is a gift from God, that nothing we have is truly ours, it is HIS gifts, entrusted to us.

Today’s prayer is the inaudible prayer that precedes this ekphonesis.  It is a beautiful prayer offered quietly by the priest in the altar. It reminds us that we need not be gathered in large numbers to experience the power of God—He stands even in the midst of two or three.  It asks God to be philanthropic to us, by answering our prayers for our benefit (there is a critical difference in Him answering them versus Him answering them in a way that He knows benefits us), to grant us knowledge of His truth (including how to become more philanthropic, as He is), and for Him to grant us the greatest gift—eternal life in the world to come.

Lord, You have given us grace to offer these common prayers with one heart.  You have promised to grant the requests of two or three gathered in Your name.  Fulfill now the petitions of Your servants for our benefit, giving us the knowledge of Your truth in this world, and granting us eternal life in the world to come.

For You are a good and loving God and to You we give glory, to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages.  Amen.

Have a great day!

 

+Fr. Stavros

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Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

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”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0