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.
“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men.”
Salt is used for two reasons. First, it is used in order to bring taste to food. Second, it is used as a preservative. In Matthew 5:13, Jesus tells us that we are the salt of the earth. And like salt, we serve two purposes. We each have the ability to bring some “taste” to life through our personalities and our talents. Each of us can bring some depth to the world. We not only add a person to the quantity of the population but we are supposed to add something to its quality, it’s “taste” as well. Think of spices that are used in small quantity but which add rich quality to food. This is how we are supposed to be, individual spices that bring quality to our world. Like salt, we also have preservative qualities. We are supposed to preserve the fabric of God’s righteousness from generation to generation. When our generation passes away, the word of God should have been furthered. Goodness should have been expanded. We are supposed to leave the world better than we found it. Is that the case right now?
Encouragement is a lot like salt. It adds taste to a world that seems to be bitter with anger. While encouragement in itself will probably not cure anger, it certainly will make a difference. We’ve all had the experience of having a bad day, when nothing seems to be going right. We’ve all sat down at the computer exasperated, dashing to complete an assignment or send off an email. Imagine turning on your computer and finding an encouraging email in your inbox. Imagine someone has written you a message that their life is better because you are in it. You would get a reprieve, even if only momentarily, from your frustration. Imagine if you found ten such emails in your inbox. Your anger might dissipate. Imagine if you found a hundred such emails. You might forget what you were angry about. And imagine if you found a thousand such emails. You would be euphoric!
Like salt, encouragement is also a preservative. In many cases, it preserves our good mood, even our sense of sanity. Encouragement might mean the difference between feeling crushed and having the strength to take another step. We can’t underestimate its power.
One of my all-time favorite stories is “The Starfish Story” by Loren Eisley. It goes like this:
One day a man was walking along the beach, when he noticed a boy hurriedly picking up and gently throwing things into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked “Young man, what are you doing?” The boy replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.” The man laughed to himself and said, “Don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t many any difference!” After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said. . .”I made a difference for that one.”
We live in an angry and discouraging world. There is no doubt about that. If our world was compared to a pot on the stove, its contents would be described as bitter. Encouragement helps remove the bitterness. It helps to make what was bitter palatable, even tasty. If we each do our part, we can make a difference.
There are lots of cynical people, like the man on the beach who laughed at the boy. They think “what possible difference can a few encouraging words make in the world?” You’d be surprised.
In the book entitled “Getting Together and Staying Together” by William Glasser and Carleen Glasser, the authors write about the “Seven Deadly Habits of Marriage.” These include criticizing, blaming, complaining, nagging, threatening, punishing, and bribing or rewarding in order to control someone. These deadly habits not only kill marriages, they kill relationships, and these deadly habits are in large part the culprits behind the bitterness of our society. Think about these seven bad habits. How many do we do each week, or even each day?
The authors also switch gears and talk about “Seven Caring Habits of Marriage” (which can be extended to other relationships). These include listening, supporting, encouraging, respecting, trusting, accepting and always negotiating disagreements. When we think about these good habits, one of the easiest to pick up is encouraging. These are the healthy habits that will give taste and depth to the world, which will crowd out the bitterness of society.
Be the salt of the earth as Christ called us to be. Being salt through encouragement will give depth and taste and will preserve positivity and in turn Godliness in our world!
Lord, thank You for the many things are unique about me (think about some of these things and bring them into this prayer). Help me to use the things that are unique about me to make a positive difference in the lives of other people today. Help me to be “salt of the earth” today, to do my part to put away bitterness and be positive. Help me to preserve as well as to spread Your Gospel by being salt in the world today. Amen.
Make a difference for someone in a good way today!