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 Journey to the Cross and Resurrection of Christ
The Proverbs of Solomon, son of David, King of Israel:
That men may know wisdom and instruction, understand words of insight,
Receive instruction in wise dealing, righteousness, justice and equity;
That prudence may be given to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth—
The wise man also may hear and increase in learning, and the man of understanding acquire skill,
To understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:1-7
Good morning Prayer Team!
During Great Lent at the Pre-Sanctified Liturgy, we read from the Old Testament books of Genesis and Proverbs, in addition to the Psalms. Why? Because Genesis is foundational to the Jewish and later Christian faiths. It establishes God as the creator of all things, recounts the fall of man, and is the beginning of the story of mankind’s redemption through the covenant God made with Abraham, with the promise made in later books to send a Messiah to redeem the people from their sins and open up a door for us back to the Paradise that had been lost.
The Proverbs, authored by King Solomon, the son of King David, are prescriptions for daily living. At a time where we seek to grow spiritually, the Proverbs provide hundreds of little “nuggets” for how to live a faithful life. Some are very plain in their meaning. For instance, Proverbs 3: 5-6, we read “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” In Proverbs 15:33, we read “The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom and humility goes before honor.”
Other Proverbs read like Parables. You have to meditate on them or read an interpretation of a theologian to understand what you are reading. For instance, in Proverbs 7: 4-5, we read “Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister,’ and call insight your intimate friend; to preserve you from the loose woman, from the adventuress with her smooth words.” In these verses, we develop a relationship, a “friendship” with “Wisdom”, an intangible quality of mind and soul that is granted to us from God. We are to use this relationship we develop with the “Wisdom of God” to avoid temptations and traps from things that seduce our minds and hearts. The “seductress” or “loose woman” not only refers to one trying to seduce someone into a sexual sin, but other things that seduce us, like money, power, greed, ego, etc.
Two of my favorite Proverbs relate to friendship. Proverbs 17:17 says “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Not only do the Proverbs apply to our own lives, they are sayings that we can use to comfort one another. I have used this verse and friends have quoted this verse to me in times of separation. When I don’t see a friend for a long time, this verse reminds us that friends love one another at all times, and the adversity of a separation does not weaken an important friendship.
Proverbs 27:17 says “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” We know that we can sharpen metal with metal, the same substance can improve itself. Friends sharpen friends in a good friendship. It is not that they criticize one another, like “you need improvement and I will make you better.” Improvement of one another is almost a natural outcome in a close friendship.
Proverbs, unlike many books of the Bible, is a book that one cannot devour in a short amount of time. You can’t really read many chapters of Proverbs and let the information all sink in. There is so much to be taken in that even a few verses can give you material to meditate on for the day.
I encourage you to slowly and purposefully make your way through Proverbs. It is a book packed with great life advice.
Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord, with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who have pleasure in them. Full of honor and majesty is His work, and His righteousness endures forever. He has caused His wonderful works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful. He provides food for those who fear Him; He is ever mindful of His covenant. He has shown His people the power of His works, in giving them the heritage of the nations. The works of His hands are faithful and just; all His precepts are trustworthy, they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. He sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever. Holy and terrible is His name! The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who practice it. His praise endures forever. Psalm 111
Read a few verses of Proverbs today!
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