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.”
THE GREAT COMMANDMENTS: WHERE DO YOU STAND?
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10:27
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life, godly and respectful in every way. I Timothy 2:1-2
Good morning Prayer Team!
The most basic building block of a relationship is respect. Before there can be love, trust, or anything else, there has to be basic respect. Let’s look first today at the human dimension of respect.
Before we can have any kind of relationship, there has to be safety—people have to respect one another to the point that there is no physical violence. There should never be an occasion, other than self-defense, to hit another person. People should be assured that in interacting with someone, that they are not going to get physically hurt.
Second, we have to refrain from verbal assaults as well. God gave us only one mouth. So the same tool we use to compliment others is also used to tear them down. We have to wonder, then, how can I criticize or curse at someone and then use the same mouth to say I love this person and not be a total hypocrite? The answer is, we can’t. We have to watch our words. Constructive criticism can be a good thing. Gentle correction is a needed thing. Respectful disagreement is a welcome thing. But we have to be careful to use our one mouth in a respectful way at all times.
If respect precedes love in human relationships, it does in our relationship with God as well. In the Old Testament, the Jews were taught to respect God’s Laws, the Ten Commandments and the other commandments. Loving God was not the message. It was respecting the Commandments. The Great Commandment to love God (and love neighbor) presumes that we are going to be respecting God’s Commandments to not kill or steal or speak against or harm our neighbor. The Great Commandment takes it further—we are not only supposed to not hurt our neighbor, we are supposed to love our neighbor. We are supposed to love God, but first we must respect His Commandments.
Going back to our mouths, we have only one mouth. If we use our mouth to praise God and to pray to Him, we must safeguard our mouths from the ungodly things that come out of them.
Respect (from a spiritual perspective)—On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you rank yourself on the following questions: Am I obedient to the commandments of God? Do I follow the tenets of our faith?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Write down some ways that you can follow the tenets of the faith more closely. Include some goals for praying more, receiving Communion regularly, and keeping the fasts.
Respect (from a relationship perspective)—Do I treat other people respectfully? Do I treat others as I would like to be treated? Do I intentionally harm others? Do I go out of my way to help them or hurt them? Am I indifferent to the feelings/needs of others? Do I use excessive foul language towards others? Do I gossip about others?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Write down some ways to show more respect in your relationships with others. Include things like cutting down on foul language and gossip. Look for ways to help others, including not only what is convenient, but also going out of your way to help.
Lord, thank You for the gift of relationships. Help me to show respect in all of my relationships. In my relationship with You, may I seek continual repentance as I seek to follow Your commandments. In my relationships with others, may I always show respect, treat others with respect, build others up, and not tear them down. Watch over and guide all of my relationships today, and always. Amen.
Show respect to everyone you meet today!
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