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.”
October 5, 2015
If You, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You. Psalm 130:3-4
Good morning Prayer Team!
This week’s theme is going to be the subject of forgiveness. Imagine if God kept track of every sinful action that we did. Imagine if God kept track of every sinful thought we had, that we didn’t act on. Think on this for a minute. We’ve all heard the story of God having something akin to a card catalog, with a box filled with cards of our sins. Can you imagine how many cards would be in that box, and all the awful things that would be written on them?! We’d be embarrassed and ashamed not only to stand before God at His awesome judgment seat, we’d be embarrassed and ashamed to even open our mouths in prayer to Him, to walk into His church. That’s how many sins are on each of our records. If we take this approach to sin, we’d all give up hope on God, and think, “well, if I’m condemned anyway, might as well just keep on sinning.”
We tend to not take sin seriously enough many times. We tend to look for sinful people, or people we consider sinful and say to ourselves “well I am ahead of them.” This is not the correct approach either.
Thankfully, when mankind fell, through our Savior Jesus Christ, God created forgiveness for us. Because there is forgiveness with God, there is a way for our man sins to be wiped away. Because if the Lord truly marked and remembered all of our sins, then no one could stand before Him.
This week, we are going to study why we need forgiveness, how to forgive, how to ask for forgiveness, how God forgive us and how we have to be able to forgive ourselves.
We do we need forgiveness? Because when we sin against God or against another person (and each time we sin against another person, we are also sinning against God), we are creating a space between us and them. The only way to lessen that space is through forgiveness. God forgiving us, and us forgiving one another. Another way to look at sin and forgiveness is imagine that there is a string connecting us to every person. When we sin, we cut the string, we sever the relationship. The only way to reconnect the string is through forgiveness. That is what restores a relationship, whether it be with God or with one another.
Let’s put aside for a moment how many times we sin against God and just consider how many times we sin against our neighbor. I’ve been married 20 years. If I do one thing wrong a week to my spouse (and it’s usually more than that), that means I’ve committed over 1,000 wrongs. The only way I can still be married after 20 years is with forgiveness. I’ve been in my parish in Tampa for 11 years. If I commit one sin against each person in a given year, over a ten year period that adds up to THOUSANDS of sins. How can I make it even a month in my parish without forgiveness? It is not possible. Same goes in your families, in your jobs, with your friends. If we mark iniquities with one another, NO relationship stands. If the Lord marks our iniquities, then no one stands before Him. Forgiveness is one key ingredient in keeping any relationship, be it with God or with one another. Without it, there can be no love. Why? Because all human relationships are stained with some kind of sin. And sin is failure to love. The only way we can truly love others is by using forgiveness to remove past failures and let love return as God intended it to be.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of another week. As I begin this week, with the responsibilities I have (you fill in the blank) and the relationships I have with (fill in the blank), help me to be patient this week, help me to forgive easily, help me to ask for forgiveness when I make a mistake. Thank You Lord for the gift of forgiveness that You so freely offer. Please do not mark my sins, but grant to me forgiveness for whatever wrongs I have done. Help me to repent of past failings, be they with You or with my fellow man. Help me to begin a new week by giving others a new start. Help me to forgive others, as You forgive me. Amen.
On that note, not every message I write is great. I’m sure there are some things I have written that may even offend people occasionally. So, please forgive me for any mistakes I have made on this prayer team. Have a grea
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