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 Eleven
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only. James 1:22
Good morning Prayer Team!
It is not enough to just hear the word of God. What we hear is supposed to affect what we do. There are some people who “do” but do not hear. Some people use this fact to disparage the need for Christianity or involvement in the church. They reason as to why they should good to church and learn to be good when there are many people who don’t go to church and are still good people, just like there are many people who go to church who are not doing good things. They also become cynical (and again rightly so) because in many churches, there isn’t works of Christian charity. Or, everyone is so concerned about the “event” and the planning and who’s going to make the profit they forget who the event is for, or they lose their servant’s heart in the “carrying off” of the event.
On the other hand, there are those who are professional students of Christianity. They can quote the Bible and the church fathers. However, despite their “intake” of the Word, they forget that we are all called to DO something with what we’ve learned.
I’m not going to be great at reading. It is actually very challenging to me to read and comprehend things. I’ve been gifted by God as a writer, but I have a lot of challenges when it comes to reading comprehension. I’m comforted with the notion that it is not necessarily how much we know that matters when it comes to the things of God but how much we do with what we know. Obviously, we need to know something of God in order to serve Him. However, I believe that what we DO is more important than what we know.
Allow me to share a personal story again of one of the most worthwhile things that my wife and I have done in our lives. Years ago, when we moved to Tampa, we bought a very small house in a part of town that had a really difficult commute for me. Thankfully, two years later, we found a different house with a better commute. We bought the new house and put the old house up for sale. The problem was, we couldn’t sell it.
Once we closed on the new house, we were saddled with two mortgage payments. The news wasn’t all bad. We didn’t move into the new house right away, and instead spent a month cleaning and painting it before moving in. That was a blessing. Moving day came, and the moving company came to our old house to pack up and move our stuff. My wife was at work that day, so I stayed home to supervise the move. In the middle of the afternoon, a parishioner called me and said he was desperate to see me THAT day. I told him that I couldn’t leave the house because I was supervising the move but if he wanted to stop by that I would see him.
When he came over, he told me that he was offered a job in Tampa, and that housing was part of his remuneration. His job position had just been eliminated and he needed to vacate his house immediately, along with his wife, their four children and mother-in-law. He didn’t have a place to stay, even that night. “God sure has a sense of humor,” I thought. “I have a house that will be empty for the foreseeable future.”
I stepped outside for a minute and called my wife. I told her maybe we should let this man and his family stay in our now vacant home temporarily, until he got a job or until the house sold. She agreed. I told him he could stay in our home rent free for as long as he needed to. He moved in that night with very meager furnishings.
A few weeks later I stopped by to check on the house. It was just after dark when I arrived and I was surprised to find a car in the driveway but no lights on. I knocked on the door, and the man answered the door. I asked why none of the lights were on and he said he didn’t want to run up my electric bill. His kids were studying by flashlight. I told him to turn the lights on, that it was “his house” for the time being. He asked if I wanted to inspect the rooms. I told them that they were his rooms and I didn’t need to look at them. He offered me some food and insisted I sit at the head of the table in “my house.” I ate with his family but asked that he sit at the head of the table in “his house.”
It was some months before the house ended up selling. Lisa and I figured that one day he was going to find a job and then the house would sell. In the meantime, between our mortgage and utilities on the house, we had spent $10,000. One day the man called me and told me he had gotten a job offer out of state and would be moving shortly. An hour later, our realtor called and said she had gotten an offer on our house. And an hour after that, she called to say that she had gotten a second offer on our house, for $10,000 more than we were asking. We ended up getting all of our money back.
Now, when we put ourselves on the line like this, we don’t always get our money back, but God will reward us in some way. I share this story because THIS was one of the most worthwhile things I’ve done in my life. God will provide us many opportunities like this. Most won’t be so dramatic. But God will put people in our paths for us to help and encourage. If we ask Him to send people to us in prayer, He will probably send us more. But everyone will be presented with people to help. The question is if and how we will help them. Our “stewardship” of our lives will be rewarded in large part not only on how we use the talents we’ve been given, but how we’ve responded to the opportunities that have been presented to us to serve and to help. I’m sure I’ve failed to help many times. This was one specific time I didn’t and I’m so glad I helped. I pray that I, and we all, will look for and embrace opportunities to serve, not only the ones that come based on our talents, but the ones that come unexpectedly.
It’s not just hearing God’s word that is important, it is doing it.
O Lord, who shall sojourn in Thy tent? Who shall dwell on Thy holy hill? He who walks blamelessly, and does what is right, and speaks truth from his heart; who does not slander with his tongue, and does no evil to his friend, nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor; in whose eyes a reprobate is despised, but who honors those who fear the Lord; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; who does not put out his money at interest, and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved. Psalm 15
DO something to serve others 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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