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
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. I Corinthians 12:4-11
Good morning Prayer Team!
I recently heard a sermon where an Orthodox priest posed four existential questions: a) Where did I come from? b) What is my purpose? c) Why is there a difference between good and evil? And d) What is my destiny? These four questions are very profound if you think seriously about them.
Today I want to focus on the question of “What is my purpose?” Take a snapshot of any moment of your life and ask God, “is this my purpose?” Take a snapshot of you sitting in traffic, mowing the lawn, standing in line at the supermarket, helping your kid with homework, arguing with your spouse, reading the Bible, helping someone, and as many other “pictures” as you want to take of your life. And as you put together this mental scrapbook of your life, write a caption under each picture that says “Is this the purpose for which I am here?” Did God put me here to mow the lawn? Argue with my spouse? Help my child? Read the Bible? Help someone? You will quickly conclude, I hope, that the things in our lives that glorify God honor the reason He put us here, and clearly there are things in our life that do not.
God didn’t put us here so that we could argue with our spouses, or drive like maniacs, or so we could over eat or drink too much. None of these things glorify God. In fact, these things dishonor God and dishonor us as well. Our purpose, plain and simple, is for us to glorify God in this life while preparing to glorify Him in His presence for eternal life. This is whole purpose and meaning of life.
As you evaluate the snapshots of your life, and you come across snapshots that do not glorify God, know that these go against the purpose of your life and try to eliminate them. If you work at a job, for instance, that requires you to cross over moral boundaries like honesty, you might want to reevaluate your job. If you have a marriage where you are perpetually at odds with your spouse, ask yourself “does this marriage glorify God? Are we realizing God’s purpose for bringing us together in marriage?” If you have a marriage that radiates love, but doesn’t necessarily radiate riches, you still have a marriage that pleases God. God doesn’t bring people together for material success, but for emotional closeness and spiritual oneness. That is the purpose of marriage.
In life, the purpose is to prepare for the Kingdom of God. So, if a person does not have a “great” job, but glorifies God on a regular basis, then he or she is on the right track to the ultimate spiritual success, salvation. This is the purpose of why we are here.
As for the other questions, the origin of life is from God. God co-creates life with us in the institution of marriage. Our soul comes from God—this is our origin. Our purpose is to glorify God in some way—some do it as parents, as teachers, as engineers, as truck drivers, as bank tellers, etc. The difference between good and evil is the difference between doing what is pleasing to God and doing what isn’t. If something is good, it is from God, the giver of all the good and perfect gifts. If something is not good, it is not from God, because God only gives what is good and perfect. While we seem to redefine what we think is pleasing to God (the constant shift in morality), what is righteous in the eyes of God does not change. And as for our destiny, we will all one day stand in front of the Lord at our Last Judgment, to answer to how we fulfilled our purpose, using the talents we had been given.
Each of us is called on to glorify God in a different way—some will do it as parents, some as teachers, some as lawyers, some as business owners, some as athletes, some as students, and many will have a combination of different ways. If you are glorifying God and doing what is pleasing to Him, then you are fulfilling your purpose. So, don’t be discouraged if your career isn’t glamorous or your bank account isn’t flush, take encouragement that your glorifying of God in your work puts you in good stead at the Last Judgment, and puts you in line for a place in God’s everlasting kingdom.
Lord, thank You for the gifts and talents You have given me (name them). Allow me to use them today for Your glory. In the moments of my life when I am tempted to not glorify You, give me the strength and discipline to maintain focus on Your glory at all times and in all places. Amen.
Focus on glorifying God in all situations today—even the mundane ones. This is our purpose.
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