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
Welcome to The Daily Prayer Team messages, each day includes a passage of scripture, a reflection, and a prayer. Sponsored by Saint John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
Jesus said, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness.” Matthew 6:22-23
Many people have insecurities about the way they look. It’s not just girls and it’s not just teenagers. Plenty of adults and males struggle with body image. I’m going bald, I accept that, but I am also a middle-age male and many of my male peers are going through the same thing. How we see ourselves can affect our self-esteem and self-confidence. If you think about it, most women’s products are marketed on the premise that women are not pretty. Their marketing says essentially, “You will only be pretty if you wear our makeup, or our lipstick, or our eyeliner, or this sweater.” And basically, “you are not pretty if you don’t.”
People are so desperate to be “pretty” that they will buy just about anything. And yet, many still don’t feel pretty. However, beauty is not what our bodies look like, or the clothes we put on them, or the way we style our hair or what kind of handbag we might carry. The beauty in the human being is found in the eyes. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6, that if the eye is sound, the rest of the body is sound. Thus, if the eyes are pretty, the rest of the body is pretty.
Most people do not have pretty eyes, because their eyes are beset with sadness, loneliness, tiredness and discouragement. People are not being encouraged to be honest, truthful, decent and noble. They are being taught that winning it the only thing, even if it involves the downfall of our neighbor. We are taught that there is a threshold of beauty or success that is almost unattainable, but that doesn’t stop people from trying to attain the unattainable. And along the way, they cross lines of honesty and integrity in the attempt to achieve “beauty”. In their attempt to be outwardly pretty, they become inwardly ugly, and this is manifested in eyes that become filled with darkness and lose their joy.
When people are honest, when people strive for integrity, decency and nobility, their eyes become pretty, and they become attractive as people. People are actually attracted to decently, honesty, honor, and nobility. People are attracted to sincerity rather than superficiality.
Because so many voices we hear each day are coming from advertisements making being pretty more important than being attractive, we go after material things in order to be pretty and we forget the things that make us attractive. If the prettiest part of any body is the eye, (and again, Christ said that, not me) then we don’t make our eyes pretty with “make up.” (Let’s think about this word for a minute—Make-up, the idea that I can use a product to make me something that I’m not. By using make-up, we are not sincere or honest, we are “made up”.) Instead of using “make up” to make our eyes “pretty,” let’s use honesty and sincerity to make our eyes attractive. If the eyes are attractive, because they are honest and sincere, the rest of us will be attractive as well. When we have to use “make-up” (and I don’t mean this literally, but metaphorically, when we have to “make up” stuff about ourselves in order to feel pretty or worthwhile), we actually make our eyes darker and less pretty because when we use too much make-up (too many lies or exaggerations), we are less truthful and thus less attractive.
We did an icebreaker at camp that involved catching fish and living out the Great Commission, Christ’s command to make disciples of all nations. The exercise involved campers making a fishing pole out of a dowel, yarn and a clothespin. The “bait” was a gummy worm. They had to catch fish by getting people to eat the gummy worm without using their hands. One of the lessons of this game was that in order to “catch fish,” the “bait” needs to be attractive. If we had put a piece of liver on the end of the “fishing pole,” no one would have wanted to participate. But because it was a gummy worm, something that looks and tastes good, people wanted to participate, the game became very attractive.
If we want to attract people to us, whether it is to be Christians, or even more simply, just to be friends, the idea of “bait” works the same way it does when catching fish. If we are superficial, we will attract people who are superficial, because superficial people find superficiality attractive. If we want to attract honest people of integrity to be our friends, we have to be honest and have integrity. We certainly don’t need to make ourselves up with dishonesty. We need to work on the beauty of our eyes, more than other things we think need to be pretty.
It is important, by the way, that we tell people they are pretty. I tell many people, especially ones who struggle with self-esteem and self-image, that they are pretty. That is important.
It is even more important to tell people they are attractive. I tell even more people that they are attractive, because when they are struggling for honesty and integrity, when they are loyal and trustworthy, these things are very attractive. And it’s important to remind people of that.
We can spend lots of money to try and look pretty. No amount of money makes a person attractive. Being attractive is something that comes from within, a desire to have sound eyes, eyes that are filled with honesty, integrity, trust, love, patience and hope.
By the way, we are all pretty, because we are all made in God’s image and likeness. God doesn’t make ugly. We are all pretty, but we have to work at being attractive.
Lord, thank You for creating us after Your image and likeness. Thank You for the gift of Scripture, and for assuring us that it is only our eyes that need to be sound in order for us to be beautiful. Thank You for the gift of my own body, that it allows me to do all the things I do, starting off with breathing. Help me to be a person of honesty, nobility, and decency, so that my eyes can be sound and the rest of me can be sound. Help me to see beauty in the eyes of others. Amen.
Work on being attractive today! Tell someone else they are pretty today! Encourage others to be attractive based on their eyes, not their make-up!
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.
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