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
For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life (soul)? For what can a man give in return for his life (soul)? Mark 8:36-37
One of the most egregious (in my opinion) mistranslations in the Bible is in Mark 8:36-37. The word which is translated as “life” in the original Greek is “psihi” or “soul.” The correct translation is “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his SOUL? For what can a man give in return for his SOUL?”
When you ask people, “what is the worst thing that can happen in life?” many people would say “to die young.” For the Christian, the worst thing that can happen in life is to die with a soul that is not ready to meet God. Think of all the bad things that can happen in life—financial troubles, dead end job, difficult marriage, problem children, living in the wrong part of the country, illness, lack of friends, and the list goes on and on—which of these would you trade for if it meant that you’d lose your own soul. Would you trade in poverty for riches if it cost you your salvation? Would you trade lack of friends for popularity if it cost you the kingdom of God? Would you upsize your car if it meant downsizing your soul? I would hope the answer would be no.
So, if you are struggling in life in material terms, but you are growing in spiritual terms, you are on the road to eternal riches. And if you are rich in material things but poor in spiritual things, you are on the road to eternal poverty.
I once gave a sermon where I laid a rope down the middle aisle of the church. I attached a paper clip onto the rope. The paper clip was so small that people only a few rows away could not see it. The rope represents eternity. The paper clip represents our life on earth in the span of eternity. If one has the best life but doesn’t have a relationship with God, he is in for an eternity of misery. If one has the worst life but has Christ in his heart, and truly loves God and serves God, then he is in for an eternity of happiness. Ideally we have a good life in material terms and in spiritual terms, but if you have to choose which one you’d prefer, I’ll take the tough life and the eternal joy instead of the easier life and eternal misery.
The message today is to keep our eyes on the prize—which is not riches and fame on earth. The prize is the kingdom of heaven, to those who are patient, and those who are willing to lose the whole world in order to save their souls.
I can stay encouraged when everything is going wrong in material terms as long as I am growing in spiritual terms.
Lord, thank You for the gift of my life. Because with life, I could not work towards eternal life. When life gets hard, when I don’t achieve the material reward for which I had hoped, please help me always to meditate on the spiritual reward. Please inspire me to put the spiritual first and the material second. Please help me to have healthy relationships with other people. Please help me to have a healthy relationship with You. Yes, I hope to gain a portion of the world. I pray for material sufficiency. Whether I succeed in material terms, help me always to seek and to find spiritual wealth. Protect, guard and grow my soul towards You. Amen.
Keep your eyes on the prize 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, FL.
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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.