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
Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. II Corinthians 9:7
The whole concept of generosity is based on two things—the joy of giving and the understanding that everything good that we have is from God, and so in a sense we do not give, we give back from what He first gave us.
Let’s look at time. Today is a gift. Some people did not wake up today. Today is a gift that I have received from God. If every moment of this day is part of my gift, why wouldn’t I want to give part of this day back to God, or to my fellow man? If today is not a gift, but rather seen as an entitlement, if today is MY day and not His, then I will greedily hold onto the moment of MY day, rather than giving back to Him the moments of the day He first gave me.
We know that God loves cheerful giving. And why shouldn’t we be cheerful in giving? In reality, we are not giving away what we have earned. We are giving back what He has blessed us with. That’s why when God gives us a 24-hour day, we should give back some of that back to Him in prayer. When God gives us a 7-day week, we should give back some of that to Him in worship. And when God gives us a 365-day year, we should give some of those days back in service to others—offering volunteer work of some kind, giving without expectation of receiving anything. And going back to today, if you are going to be awake for 16 hours of this day, this adds up to 930 minutes. Certainly we can give some of those away in prayer, in reading scripture, and in going out of our way to show kindness to someone and to offer words of encouragement as well.
Multi-tasking seems to be viewed as some kind of virtue worthy of emulating. The problem with multi-tasking, when it comes to how we give our time to other people, is that if we are multi-tasking, we are not 100% present with the person whom we are talking and this is not generous with our time. For instance, if we are carrying on a conversation and at the same time we are texting or looking at stuff on our computers, we are not a hundred percent present with the person we are speaking with. That’s one reason why when I hear confessions or do counseling, I don’t have my phone with me. How can I be generous with my time if I’m dividing it between two people at the same time? How can I be 100% present with someone if I am dividing my attention?
There may be a difference between putting away dishes while talking on the telephone versus having a serious conversation with your spouse or child while putting away the dishes. If you are gabbing on the phone with a friend, you can probably still have a good conversation being 90% on the phone and 10% with the dishes. However, if you are having a serious conversation, this merits 100% of attention being given to the person you are speaking with. So, in being generous with your time, I encourage you to evaluate seriously when multi-tasking is good and when it might be considered not only inefficient but insensitive and rude.
One final comment on giving time—no two people are equal on any metric, starting with the hairs on our heads. So equality is not something we should strive for in any relationship. Rather we want to strive for mutuality, for the mutual good of all parties involved. Which means that all parties take turns giving. Generosity should flow generously between people. Ideally, everyone strives to do as much as they can. Everyone gives with joy. This is what generosity is. Acts 20:35 says “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” which means that there is joy in generosity. It brings joy to give. So learn to be a good listener and a generous giver of time and see the joy it will bring to your life.
Lord, thank You for the gift of this day. Help me to truly appreciate this day as a gift that I have been given, rather than something I am entitled to. Inspire me to give generously of my time, to spend time in prayer and in scripture reading, to spend time helping someone today, to spend time encouraging someone else. Help me to give consistently and with joy. Help me to stay present and not be distracted as I offer myself to help others. Amen.
Give joyfully today!
The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! There you may find a database for past prayer team messages as well as books by fr. Stavros and other information about his work and St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa. www.prayerteam365.com
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