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.”
Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
ENGAGED: The Call to Be Disciples
Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19-20
Stewardship: Giving to God What Belongs to God—Part Seven
Now after a long time, the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. Matthew 25: 19
Good morning Prayer Team!
Do you ever think about the day when the Lord will come for each of us? Most of us seldom, if ever, think about this. When we evaluate our talents, we generally evaluate based on how much money we are making money off of our talents. We don’t think in terms of whether God will be pleased with how we are using our talents.
In the Parable of the Talents, Jesus tells us that there is going to be a reckoning. In the parable, the master returned and called his servants to settle accounts with them, to see what they had done with the talents he had given them. This represents the reckoning that the Lord is going to have with us, His servants, to whom He has entrusted talents—again, in our case, the talents are our unique abilities, as well as the time that God gives us to use them, the years of our lives.
In Matthew 24:42-44, Jesus tells us, “Watch, therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore, you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” In other words, we should treat our lives like the householder in these verses. Jesus is going to come for us, to reckon with us what we did with the talents He has given us. However, He is going to come at an hour that we will not know. Therefore, it is incumbent on us to be vigilant in using our talents. There should be a sense of immediacy and urgency to use our talents for God’s glory, rather than a sense of complacency.
Have you ever had a moment where you thought: “I hope God doesn’t come for me right now, since He would probably not like what I’m doing right now”? Or have you had the thought: “If God were to come for me, I hope He would come right now, because if He did, He’d be pleased to see what I am doing.
If the Lord came for you today, how do you want to greet Him? Do you think He is pleased with what you are doing with what He has given you? And if you had to make an accounting of yourself before the Lord, would you be proud, or embarrassed, with what you’ve done with the things He has blessed?
The Orthodox Church reminds us of this reckoning in the Divine Liturgy and many other services, in a petition which prays “For a Christian end to our lives, peaceful without shame and suffering and for a good defense before the awesome judgment seat of Christ, let us ask of the Lord.” The church kindly reminds us that we should be constantly evaluating how we are using our talents and preparing a “good defense before the awesome judgment seat of Christ”. This doesn’t mean that we live a fatalistic reality or that we should be obsessed or even scared of death. It means that we should be more purposeful with how we are living, today, and how we are using the talents and gifts that have been entrusted to us, today.
I’m reminded of the Parable of the Ten Maidens which immediately precedes the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25: 1-13. In this parable, there are ten maidens who went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were wise and five were foolish. The wise maidens took extra oil with them. The foolish ones did not. When the bridegroom was late in coming, all the maidens slept. At midnight, there was an announcement that the Bridegroom was coming. The foolish maidens asked the wise maidens for oil and the wise maidens told the foolish maidens to go buy oil for themselves. While they were gone, the Bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the marriage feast with Him. Later on the foolish maidens came and they were turned away from the door.
I used to think when I was a kid that the wise maidens were really mean maidens because they wouldn’t share their oil. I now understand that the oil in this parable is the faith. And what we are doing with the faith, and also the talents that we have. We can’t take our faith and cut it in two. We can talk about the faith but we can’t take our personal faith and cut in pieces and share it. Faith is personal. Either we have it or we don’t.
We can’t take our hard work and our service to other people and cut it in two and share it either. Our work belongs to us. So does our service. The wise maidens could sleep while waiting for the Bridegroom (Christ) because they had prepared. They had been good stewards. They could sleep easy, having confidence that they had lives and utilized their talents for His glory.
If we utilize our talents, our gifts and our time consistently, we can rest easy as well. We can all stand to live in a better state of readiness for the reckoning that God has promised.
Blessed be the Lord, for He has wondrously shown His steadfast love to me, when I was beset as in a besieged city. I had said in my alarm, “I am driven far from Thy sight.” But Thou didst hear my supplications, when I cried to Thee for help. Love the Lord, all you His saints! The Lord preserves the faithful, but abundantly requites him who acts haughtily. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord! Psalm 31:21-24
Live purposefully today!
With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now.
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Photo Credit: Epreneur
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