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 by Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis, each day includes a passage of scripture, a reflection and a prayer. Sponsored by Saint John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 5: 14-16
God made every one of us in His image and likeness. However, just as God is infinite, in His great wisdom and love, He made each human being to be different. We can take an “infinite” number of people and not find two that are exactly the same. Even identical twins have different skill sets and talents. Our purpose in life is to glorify God, to let our light, His light, shine on others through our unique gifts, used to help those around us.
Thankfully, each person is not the same. We tend to place higher values on certain kinds of people. We rank the doctor ahead of the farmer. Yet we forget that without the farmer, we’d have no food and thus no life and no need for a doctor. And without the truck driver, we wouldn’t get the food from the farm to the store. And without the person who puts the food on the shelves, there would be no food to buy. And without the person who sweeps the floor in the store, the food would be contaminated. And without the person who inventories the store, there wouldn’t be enough food to buy. The point here is that each person has the potential to play an important role in the world. Not everyone is going to be doctor and that is a good thing. If, however, you shine God’s light through your work, whatever work that may be, then God will be glorified, our neighbor will be loved, and we will be doing right in the eyes of God.
While we may each have unique gifts and talents, we shine the same Light. Going now to our theme of a thankful heart, we should be grateful for the Light of Christ, present in each of us. We should be thankful for gifts and talents we have received from Him. And if thankfulness is an action, our thankfulness should manifest itself in honest and consistent effort to use our talents as best as we can, to give a good effort.
Part of the problem in our world today is that people lament who they aren’t and what they don’t have, rather than being thankful for who they are and for what they have. I’m never going to be a millionaire, drive an expensive car, or take exotic trips, and that’s okay. I’m satisfied that I can earn a living and at the same time give glory to God by hopefully helping others in some small way.
Someone once told me that God crowns effort, not success. Because sometimes we cannot control success. We can always, however, control our efforts.
We can plan a wonderful and edifying retreat and attendance could be held down by the weather. God will reward our effort, even if the event wasn’t as successful because of the weather.
We can invite someone to church and they may turn down the invitation. God will reward our effort because it is the invitation that we can control, not necessarily its acceptance.
We can create opportunities to spread the Gospel. The Holy Spirit is the One Who converts the hearts. Thus we need to focus on throwing the seed, not necessarily the kind of soil it lands in. Recalling the Parable of the Sower, Luke 8:5-15, in this parable the sower threw the seed (which represents the Word of God) into all kinds of soil. He knew the seed on the rocks would not take root but he threw it anyway, because it’s the effort to spread the Gospel that counts. It is the effort to use our unique talents that counts. It is our effort to make the most of what we’ve been given that counts in the eyes of God.
So, we need to be thankful for what we have, and do the best with what God has given us. And in this way, we will glorify Him, help our neighbor, and move ourselves closer to God’s Kingdom.
Lord, thank You for the unique gifts and talents I have (name them). Help me to use these gifts today to bring glory to You and to help those around me. Help me to appreciate and use the gifts I have, celebrating what I have been given and honoring You, as the One who gave them to me. Let Your Light so shine in me that others will see my good works, done in Your name, and come to know and glorify You as well. Amen.
Make your effort reflect thankfulness for His gifts to you!