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. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros 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
LET US GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD
I give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart. Psalm 9:1
But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him, if you search after Him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:29
Good morning Prayer Team!
In a previous reflection, we discussed how the fall of mankind was caused by ingratitude and greediness. The Lord gave mankind free access to everything in the garden of Eden but told mankind to stay away from the tree of the union of good and evil. And instead of thanking God, mankind partook of the forbidden tree and the result was the fall of man.
If you read Genesis three carefully, you will see that the first consequence of the fall was that man couldn’t bear the thought of seeing God. In Genesis 3:8, we read “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees in the garden.” So, if the ungrateful heart cannot stand the sight of God, it is the thankful heart that helps us to see and know Him.
Jesus often spoke in parables, that laid out the secrets of the good life on earth and foretold what heaven will be like. These were grasped by some and not understood by many. Jesus gave the reason for this to His disciples when He said to them “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the Kingdom of God; but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.” (Luke 8:10)
The difference between Adam and Eve and the Disciples were the disposition of their hearts. Adam and Eve had hearts that were ungrateful, at least for the moment that they sinned. And the consequence of sin was that they could not see God, not because He didn’t want to see them, but because their sin made them feel so inadequate in His presence. Conversely, the Disciples approached God in with humble and grateful hearts and were given to know the secrets of God’s Kingdom.
No heart is evil all the time, just as no heart is godly all the time. However, we will not see God in our moments of sin and ingratitude. We will see Him in our moments of love and thankfulness.
The thankful heart helps us to see and know God. The more thankful we are, the more loving we become. The more loving we become, the more pure our hearts become. And the more pure our hearts our hearts become, the more clearly we see and know God. As Jesus says in Luke 8:15, concluding the Parable of the Sower, “As for that (seed) in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart and bring forth fruit with patience.” And in Matthew 5:8, He says “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
The fall of mankind was caused by ingratitude, which caused the human race to lose sight of God. Our redemption begins with a thankful heart which seeks to see God. In our moments of sin, we will lose sight of God. And we all have these moments. It is in our moments of thankfulness, again express in love and in service, that we get our glimpses of God.
A thankful hearts helps us to see and know God.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit. Amen. (Psalm 51:10-12)
Focus on having a thankful heart today.
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