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
THE ENCOURAGEMENT PROJECT
Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise prophesying, but test everything; hold fast what is good, abstain from every form of evil. I Thessalonians 5: 19-22
Good morning Prayer Team!
There are many times when great speakers or writers talk or write a lot and they leave the listener or reader waiting patiently for the kernel or nugget of wisdom. Saint Paul, in today’s verses doesn’t leave us waiting at all. He packs a lot of wisdom into only a few words.
Do not quench the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is part of the Holy Trinity. Since we cannot comprehend the fullness of God, or His majesty, we cannot fully comprehend the work of the Holy Spirit. We cannot contain the Holy Spirit. We cannot put a limit to the power of the Holy Spirit. We cannot fully grasp the grace of the Holy Spirit which allows ordinary to become extraordinary. We cannot break it down in scientific or tangible terms. This is what we call faith. We allow the Spirit to work in us, and to work in others.
This is also why are do not despise prophesying, which is allowing for the Holy Spirit to speak through others to us. The most profound conversation I ever had in my life was with a priest when I was nineteen years old. I was at one of my life’s lowest moments and his advice was profound, in fact it was life-changing for me. When I went to thank the priest for immensely impacting my life, he couldn’t remember the conversation. I believe that was the Holy Spirit speaking through him. There have been times in my life when I have said something that affected someone else in a profound way, and I couldn’t remember what I said, shortly after saying it. I believe that is the Holy Spirit as well.
Saint Paul encourages us to test everything so that when something profound is said, we should examine whether it was profoundly good or profoundly bad. We aren’t to take everything profound as being from the Holy Spirit, only the profoundly good. So, it is fair to test what we see and hear for its goodness before ascribing it to the Holy Spirit.
Hold fast to what is good. It seems that our world is dominated by negativity. The newspaper, news shows, and magazines are filled with it. So are our conversations. Holding fast to what is good is a reminder to not only see the good in people, but to make sure we are contributing something good to conversations, to relationships, to our workplace, in our families, to our world.
Life is like the scales of justice. Good competes with evil. Keeping the scales with more good than evil is hard. Especially when the majority of voices are discouraging. We can hold fast to what is good by encouraging one another.
Abstain from every form of evil. Some of the evil that happens to us we have no choice in. We are all victims to the bad mistakes of others or the ill-intent of others. However, some of the evil that befalls us is of our own making. For instance, we have the freedom to decide to use foul language or gossip. We choose to bring evil to conversations. We choose to make mistakes which potentially harm others. And so staying away from evil is to some degree a personal choice. St. Paul reminds us to abstain, to conscientiously choose to go away from evil things.
This verse can be summarized in three words: Make Godly choices.
Lord, thank You for the many gifts that you have given to me. Thank You for the Holy Spirit, which is continuously at work in the world. Help me to allow the Holy Spirit to be at work in my life. Help me to be a good listener, to see the good in others and to seek to do good on my own. Give me the discipline to abstain from evil. Help me to glorify You in all that I do today. Amen.
Make Godly choices today!
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