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
Welcome to The Daily Prayer Team messages, each day includes a passage of scripture, a reflection and a prayer. Sponsored by Saint John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24
Today we enter into the first of seven reflections on generosity. Generosity is a sore subject for many people, particularly when it comes to the Church. People tend to think of the things they have as “their things” or “things they’ve earned” or “things they are entitled to” rather than things with which they are blessed. Outside we are bombarded constantly with thoughts about what we should have. Those who do not have argue that those who have have too much and need to share. Those who have argue that what they have received has been fairly earned and they should keep all that they have.
What does God say? How generous actually are we supposed to be? These next seven reflections will shed some light on this for us.
The first place to start is with the word “steward.” A steward is a temporary caretaker of something. Because we are temporarily here, nothing that we have can really be owned. For instance, I “own” my house but at some point, when I am no longer alive on earth, the house will not be mine. Regardless of what the deed on my house says, I am only occupying it temporarily. I’m a “caretaker” of the piece of ground that my house occupies. At some point, another person will “take care” of that piece of property.
There are a lot of things that I take care of temporarily—my marriage, my child, my job, my car, the environment, and many more. None of these things will be mine in 100 years. I am temporarily taking care of all of them. In fact, the only thing that is actually going to be mine in 100 years is my faith and the record of my life. Those two things—my faith and my record of demonstrating it—will be mine forever.
Before we get into being generous with our money and other things, let’s talk about the stewardship of our time. The best steward of time sees all time as a gift. We tend to not think quite like this. Most of us plan to live for a long time. In fact, all of us are planning to wake up tomorrow. In fact, if being alive tomorrow because questionable, we might even protest—“I’m too young to die, I deserve to have tomorrow,” or even “I’m entitled to tomorrow, after all I’m young.”
When we wake up every day, it is easy to feel entitled, rather than grateful.
A wise priest once told me to celebrate every Divine Liturgy as if it were my first and my last. At my first liturgy, there was an unbelievable sense of joy, because I had waited so long to do it. I couldn’t wait to celebrate the Liturgy. And I suppose that if it was the last time I would celebrate the Divine Liturgy, there would be an incredible sense of nostalgia as well as focus and purpose, and still a sense of joy.
Imagine that you knew today was your last day on earth. You’d live it with a sense of urgency, squeezing out every second of joy, friendship, family and faith. Why not live every day like that, with the urgency and focus as if you knew it was your last day?
We are not owners of our lives. We are stewards, for each of us takes care of our life on earth only temporarily. Therefore, we should see each day as a gift from God, and embrace each day with gratitude, in addition to focus and purpose.
We are stewards of our lives, from the entirety of our lives down to how you spent today. At the Judgment that awaits all of us, God is going to ask us not only “What did you do with the talents I entrusted you?” but “What did you do with the time I entrusted to you?” What are you doing with your life? What are you doing with your year? What are we doing with TODAY?! Because today is what we have.
How will you spend the day today? Will you make time to pray and meditate on Scripture? Will you help someone in need? Will you use words that are kind or mean? What kind of driver will you be? Will there be more encouraging or discouraging words that come out of your mouth? Will you be generous with your time? Will you be generous with your compliments and encouragement? And will you be generous in helping others? Or will you be stingy? These are some important choices for today. However, if we are going to be a good steward of our lives and today is the day that we have, then we need to be motivated to make good choices today.
I thank Thee that Thou hast answered me and hast become my salvation. The stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Save us, we beseech Thee, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech Thee, give us success! Blessed be he who enters in the name of the Lord! We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, and He has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar! Thou art my God, and I will give thanks to Thee; Thou art my god, I will extol Thee. O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 118: 21-29
THIS is the DAY the Lord has made. Rejoice and be glad in it. Be a good steward of it. Be generous in it!
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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