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.
And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. Luke 6:31
One of the first Bible verses I memorized as a child was the Golden Rule. Truth be told, I memorized the Golden Rule, and later put it together that this was actually a verse from the Bible. In fact, the translation I remember was “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
As we move into the second section of this study, we will examine I Thessalonians 12-13a (the first half of verse 13). This verse includes encouragement to “respect those who labor among you” (your equals), as well as those who “are over you” (your bosses), as well as those who “admonish you” (even those who treat you rudely). We are to hold all in high esteem, even those we don’t get along with.
The Golden Rule provides a good barometer for how we are supposed to interact with one another. We are to put ourselves in their shoes. For instance, if we find ourselves in a position of authority, i.e. we are the boss, we should see our workers as if we were one of them. We should ask ourselves, how would I want to be treated if I was in their shoes? We should lead with kindness, with patience and with love, not with shrewdness and fear.
This idea of putting ourselves in the shoes of someone else is not something that comes natural to many of us. This is something we all need to work on. As an example, if we have no sense of empathy and compassion, it will be difficult to offer that to someone else. This is an important reason why we have to teach our children empathy and compassion along with reading and math. If they don’t learn it as a child, they are may have a harder time learning it as an adult.
We also tend to judge one another by our own yardstick. If we are dishonest, we are likely to think others around us are dishonest. Thus, in learning how to hold others in high esteem, we have to learn to hold ourselves in high esteem. In order to see value in others, we need to see value in ourselves.
We can’t give away to others what we don’t have ourselves to give. If we are harsh on ourselves, we are more likely to be judgmental about others. If we have a good sense of belonging, we will be able to give others a sense of belonging. If we have a sense of self-worth, not in an arrogant way, but in a quiet and confident way, then we can help give worth to others.
We have to build a sense of self-esteem so that we can esteem others. We have to build up and encourage others, so that they have a sense of self-esteem because ultimately esteem happens in a cycle. If I have no self-worth, I can’t give you self-worth, which contributes to lowering your self-worth, which perpetuates on mine. Encouragement and esteem work in a cycle. When we build the esteem of others, when others feel encouraged, they have the confidence to lift others.
One modern interpretation of the Golden Rule is that we tend to do unto others what has been done to us. If we feel blessed, we are likely to impart blessings to others. If we feel cursed, we are likely to curse others. Because so many people feel angry, they inflict their anger on others. Think about the last time you were felt cranky or grouchy, you probably inflicted that on others. After all, when we are cranky, it is hard to put on a happy face for others. (An even worse modern interpretation of the Golden Rule is “Do unto others BEFORE they do unto you,” as if to say, “everyone is out to get me, so let me get one over on everyone else before they get one over on me.”)
Encouragement helps break a cycle of low self-worth and helps create the cycle of good self-worth in others. Encouragement and self-esteem are very closely tied together. When we help others in the esteem category, we actually get a benefit ourselves.
Going back to the Golden Rule, if you want to be encouraged by others, be an encourager yourself.
Lord, thank You for the gift of my life, my talents, my skills, my successes and even my failures, because even in failure, I can grow. Help me to have confidence in myself. Help me to remember that everything I have that is good is a blessing from You. Help me to impart confidence in others by esteeming others and encouraging others. In the moments when I lack confidence, bring others to me who will encourage me. Amen.
Encourage someone today because it will benefit both them as well as you!
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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