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” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”
Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
ENGAGED: The Call to Be Disciples
Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19-20
Stewardship: Giving to God What Belongs to God—Part Four
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from Above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation of turning. James 1:17 (NKJV)
Good morning Prayer Team!
Everything that is good comes from God. If something is good, it has a divine origin. If something is bad, it has a human (non-divine) origin. Let’s go with the bad first. There are several causes of headaches—A hangover is the result of human behavior. Not getting enough sleep is the result of human behavior. Not wearing glasses which causes one to squint when reading and produces a headache is the result of human behavior. Breathing in fumes causes a headache and is a result of human behavior. And the list goes on and on. We can’t place blame for all of these things on ourselves, necessarily. After all, breathing in fumes at a gas station is not the fault of anyone in particular. Suffice it to say, if it’s not good, it’s not from God. If something is not good, its origin is not from God.
Now to the other side. If it’s good, it is from God. Let’s say that you own a nice home. This has been purchased with a nice paycheck. Which comes from a job that you work hard at. Which you were hired to do because you have a specific talent. Which you received from God. So, even something like a material that you’ve purchased with money you’ve earned ultimately traces its origin to God.
This is a crucial point. Because if we see ourselves as the center of our successes, then where is there room for God in our lives? If we see Him in the center of our successes, then He is going to be the center of our lives.
Same thing with the things we see around us. As I’m typing, I’m sitting in an office on a chair that was made by man, in front of a desk, typing on a computer, in a room of a building, with carpet, books, etc., all of which were made by man. However, all of these good things have their origin with God. He made the first tree from which other trees were grown from which wood was cut to make the desk. He made the colors which were turned into paints which provide the decoration of my walls. He created the human beings who built the office and the building that it sits in. So, it’s not only the good things we have, but the good things around us that have divine origins.
As an aside, people have often asked the question why do bad things happen to people? The answer is that some bad things are caused by our own mistakes, like driving a car too fast and hitting a wall. Some bad things are caused by the mistakes of others, like others driving too fast and hitting our cars. Some things are caused by “natural disasters” like earthquakes and volcanoes, which are the result of a fallen world. And some things are caused by our being equal sharers of an imperfect nature—impure water and impure air contribute to impure gene pools and spawn diseases which affect each person. None of these bad things comes from God.
If we see every good thing as a gift, we will receive these gifts with gratitude. When I take a shower, I rarely pause to think that water is a gift. Rather I think of a shower as an entitlement—I had a long day, I deserve the right to be clean. So I “take” a shower. I don’t “receive” the gift of water in my shower. If I saw the water more as a gift, I would probably do a better job of conserving it, for one thing. And I would have more of a posture of gratitude about things, rather than feeling entitled, and consequently feeling cheated, when I don’t get what I think I am entitled to.
Being a good steward includes seeing the good things in the world as gifts, not as entitlements. It also includes a greater sense of gratitude, which leads then to a greater sense of preservation, conservation, and sharing what one has, because it is a gift, not a possession.
O Lord, Who blesses those who bless You and sanctifies those who put their trust in You, save Your people and bless Your inheritance. Protect the whole body of Your Church. Sanctify those who love the beauty of Your house. Glorify them in return by Your divine power, and forsake us not who have set our hope in You. Grant peace to Your world, to Your churches, to the clergy, to our civic leaders, to the armed forces, and to all Your people. For every good and perfect gift is from Above, coming down from You, the Father of lights. To You we give glory, thanksgiving and worship, to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen. (Prayer Behind the Ambon, from the Divine Liturgy, 2015 Translation)
If every good and perfect gift is from Above, what are some of the greatest gifts you have received? And what are some of the “mundane” or “ordinary” gifts you’ll receive today? Reflect on these questions today!
With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now.
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
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