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
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. Luke 6:32
Good morning Prayer Team!
From the time we are young, we learn the concept of “credit.” If you want “credit” for your homework, it has to be turned in on time. If you do some extra work, you can get “extra credit.” The kids who star in the school play see their names in a program, giving them “credit” for their part. But everyone wants to be on that program, even the stage hands, so we add their names on the program too. Everyone wants some kind of credit. In fact, we’re almost obsessed with “credit.”
When we get older, we are introduced to the “credit” card-it gives you “something” (credit) for “seemingly” nothing. And then many people find that they cannot manage their credit, falling farther and farther in debt, all because they took credit that didn’t belong to them (credit they couldn’t pay off on time).
One of the “scourges” of our Orthodox Church is also our obsession with credit-that’s why in so many places, we see names attached to icons and pews and any place else a name will fit-this is “credit” that will be around long after we are not. Immortality for sale.
Jesus tells us that it is no credit to us to love those who love us. It is no credit to us if we do good to those who do good to us. And it is not credit to us if we lend to those from whom we hope to receive. Love is where we take something of ourselves and project onto someone or something else. We empty ourselves in order to fill another. If I love someone and I give them time, then I’m emptying MY time and I’m giving it to someone else. That is love. If I’m hoping or expecting to receive something from them, then I am trading with them, not loving them. One can respect oneself but one cannot really “love” oneself because one cannot take from himself and then return again to himself-that is self-serving, there is no one else involved.
Jesus tells us that the ultimate love is to love one’s enemy, one whom we want to not love, one whom we could never expect to receive something from in return. That is the ultimate manifestation of love. God loves us, even though we don’t deserve His love. Why do we not deserve His love? Because we are constantly sinning, doing things that don’t show love for God. And yet God continues to reward us with new days, with new chances, with new blessings. He continues to shower us with His love, whether we deserve it or not. Likewise, we are supposed to love one another, not for any kind of “credit,” but because this is how God loves us. So, as you go about your day today, think about love as something taken from you and projected on to someone else. And try to show love to everyone today-whether in the form of a kind word, or deed, whether to a friend or a stranger. Because if we want “credit” in the eyes of God, then we have to learn to love the enemy. And we can’t do that until we learn to love the stranger. And we can’t do that until we learn how to love the friend. And before we can do that, we have to learn to love God. And THAT is worth more credit than a plaque or an accolade. God’s credit pays off for eternity-God’s credit is what is needed to reach His heavenly kingdom.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of this day. Help me today to be more cognizant of what it means to love others, to serve others, to love You and to serve You. Shower me with Your love, protection and direction. Help me to love others as You love me. Help me to keep my focus not on earthly accolades or awards but on heavenly things. Please help me to love You more and more each day. Thank You for loving me and blessing me with the gift of today. Amen.
Have a great day!
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