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.
Goal-Setting for 2018
The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys him Proverbs 11:3
Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is perverse in his ways. Proverbs 28:6
Good morning Prayer Team!
When you think of what characteristics make for a great life, does your mind go first to material things? Most people equate riches or fame as the marks of a “great” or a “successful life.” I would argue that it is not the material things that make for a successful life, but rather traits like integrity, vulnerability and presence, which will be the topics of the next three days on the Prayer Team.
Today, we will talk about integrity. Would you trade your integrity for riches? Plenty of people do. This is why we have so much dishonesty, fraud and unethical behavior. One of my favorite quotes from William Shakespeare is “to thine own self be true.” (Hamlet) Of course the meaning of this quote has been debated by people. I’m sure some people think that this quote means “look out for number one (yourself).” Sometimes in looking out for number one, we have to steamroll over others, and when we do that, it compromises our integrity. When I think of this phrase, I think, “keep your integrity above all costs.” I think “be able to look yourself in the eye and know that you are honest, that you have put forth an honest effort.”
We all know that it is possible to fool some people some of the time. It is not possible to fool all the people all the time. We even try to fool ourselves sometimes, rationalizing certain behaviors as okay, or “not that bad compared to others.” Of course, we can’t fool God any of the time. He knows our thoughts, our actions and our motives at all times.
Most of us have a great need for approval by others. And sometimes our desire to be popular or liked or cool leads us to stretch certain behaviors and rationalize them as okay. The person of integrity believes that it is more important to stay “right” in the eyes of God than in the eyes of other people.
In Matthew 6:22-23, Jesus tells us “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness.” To me, this means that the eye is the most beautiful part of our bodies. If we can look ourselves in the eye and know that we are right with God, this is what integrity means.
There is also an element of being right with ourselves. For instance, if everyone says that I have a great car, but I know that I stole the car, I will look myself in the eye and know that despite what everyone says, I am a thief. If everyone criticizes my car, but I know that I worked hard and bought the car with honest means, then I can look myself in the eye and know that despite everyone’s criticism, I still have honesty and integrity. At the end of the day, honesty and integrity means more to me than popularity. And being “right with God,” is more important than being popular with others.
So, as we start off 2018 and set goals for the year, think about the word integrity and what that means. Set a goal to be able to look yourself in the eye each day and each day, ask yourself if the person staring back in the mirror showed integrity—if you were true to yourself, if you were true to God. If you can look yourself in the eye and know that you are sound with God, you will be sound with yourself, and your body will be filled with light, the Light of Christ, and others will see that Light in you.
Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind. For Thy steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in faithfulness to Thee. I do not sit with false men, nor do I consort with dissemblers; I hate the company of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked. I wash my hands in innocence and go about Thy altar, O Lord, singing aloud a song of thanksgiving, and telling all Thy wondrous deeds. O Lord, I love the habitation of Thy house, and the place where Thy glory dwells. Sweep not me away with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men, men in whose hands are evil devices, and whose right hands are full of bribes. But as for me, I walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me. My foot stands on level ground; in the great congregation I will bless the Lord. Psalm 26
Look yourself in the eye today, and make sure the eyes staring back at you are filled with integrity.
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.
Photo Credit: Center for Ethical Leadership
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