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
We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
Fruits of the Spirit
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5: 22-23
Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and He who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His own Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son as the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in Him, and He in God. So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. In this is love perfected with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as He is so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love. We love because He first loved us. I John 4: 7-19
Good morning Prayer Team!
In his Universal Letter, St. John also included a chapter on love. While not spoken of as often as I Corinthians 13, this chapter equates God with love. We are to love one another because love is from God, and the one who loves is born of God and knows God. If one does not love, he cannot know God. For God is love.
God united Himself, love and us all together in sending Jesus Christ into the world. Christ showed us what it means to love. He united God and man by being perfect God and perfect man. And He also united us, the human beings, to Him, by being among us. God and love are united, so that through God we may come to know what love is and through love, we may come to know God.
If God loves us, if the perfect God loves the imperfect human beings, if the perfect God has the capacity to love the imperfect human beings, then the imperfect people ought to be able to love each other. If God can love us, then we must love each other.
No one has seen God, but we experience God through loving one another. We experience God in being loved by others. We also experience God in a private way through prayer and private devotion. We experience God in love. In Matthew 18:20, Jesus says that where two or three are gathered in His name, He is there in the midst of them. So, when people gather in love, God stands with them. Whether this is two spouses, or a parent and child, or visiting a friend in the hospital, or just giving some encouragement, any gesture of love is accompanied by the presence of God.
Love is the means by which we abide in God and God abides in us. So, if we abide in love, we abide in God, and if we choose to abide in God, then it follows that we abide in love. And by abiding in God’s love, we are supposed to take a measure of confidence for our day of judgment, for our judgement will be based on how we loved God and one another.
There is no fear in love. The two cannot coexist. So if you are someone who causes fear in other people, there is no love when we are making others fearful. And in this moment, we become distant from God. We’ve all, at some point or other, made someone nervous, maybe we’ve caused someone’s blood pressure to rise. Sadly, there are people who do that to others on a regular basis. And even sadder, there are people who pride themselves at putting fear into others. Again, fear and love cannot co-exist. That doesn’t mean that loving people don’t occasionally make others fearful. As you evaluate your life, think over whether you are a person who exudes more fear or love, and if the answer is that you are someone who puts fear into others regularly, you might reconsider your conduct. Because God is a God of love, not of fear. And those who love God lead with love, not with fear.
God is not asking us to do something He hasn’t done first. God has loved us, which is why we are supposed to love Him and love one another. He has defined what love is and He has set the standard in sending down His Son to die for us.
Lord, thank You for the gift of Your love. Help me to be someone who leads with love and not with fear. Take away my fears and replace them with the love and comfort that come from You. Help me to know You better through loving others and through their love for me. Surround me with loving and encouraging people. Help me to love others and You have loved us. Amen.
Evaluate whether you are someone who exudes love or fear, and think of ways to show more love and bring less fear into others!
With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now.
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
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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