Part VI: For Whom Do We Exist?

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments…

He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

John 14:15, 21

Some Christian theology is very hard to interpret. There are entire books of the Bible that I’ve needed annotated notes in order to understand. There is, however, a good amount of Christianity that one might classify as “common sense.” This reflection is one of those things that one might classify as common sense. The question is, “for whom do we exist?” There are two possible answers—we either exist for ourselves or we exist for one another. God either created us to serve ourselves, or He created us to serve each other. Or, I suppose there is a third option, which is to believe that there is no God and we find ourselves randomly here.

Let’s say that we believe God made us to serve ourselves. This would mean we should have as much fun as possible, make as much money, do as much for ourselves while we can, before life is over. If this truly is our purpose, then as life goes one, we will become more and more sad, because there will be less and less time to get things for ourselves.

If there is no God and we are randomly here, then life has no purpose. We either serve others to “go along to get along.” Or we serve ourselves, because if there is no higher purpose, might as well look inwardly. Or we live in between the two in a state of confusion and eventually disinterest. If there is no purpose, then it’s like there is no point to anything.

This brings us to the idea that God made us for one another, that God made us to serve one another. And in serving one another, we serve God. Either we serve God through serving others, or we serve ourselves. There doesn’t seem to be other possibilities.

If life is all about us, then it is really pretty shallow. Let’s think about how the world addresses this topic. Does the world tell us that life is more about us, or more about others? Think of how we are raising our kids. We encourage them to get good grades, so that they can get good jobs, so that they can earn good salaries, so that they can buy nice things and have a good life. In a sense, we are “breeding” our kids to be good so that they end up good, not necessarily others. Advertising on TV is all about our own material gain.

There is nothing wrong with relaxing and having fun. There is nothing wrong with owning a nice home or wearing nice clothes. However, life has to be about more than just having fun. It has to be about more than just us.

We’ve all had the experience of going to a restaurant and eating a meal that has been haphazardly prepare. This is especially true in some fast food restaurants. I know I’ve eaten many a hamburger that was prepared so quickly that it is falling apart. I presume that is because the boss tells the employees to work fast, get the people in and out quickly, as opposed to serving the PEOPLE. This is what happens when we see people as “dollar signs”. It becomes more about us and less about them.

We exist either for ourselves or for others. If we understand our primary role as existing to serve others (and serving God in the process), then offering encouragement will become much easier and more frequent for us. After all, encouraging others is among the easiest ways to serve others. We’ve discussed many times already how it brings big reward (to others and to ourselves) with very low cost. If we are thinking “I exist for you and not for me,” then it will be much easier to see our role as encouragers because encouragement is all about building up others. When we want to see others to well and we want to help them, encouragement becomes our almost “natural” response to every person and every situation that involves another person.

In the home where I currently live, we have a pool. There are three things that are controlled by the pool pump—the suction in the main drain, the suction in the skimmer, and the suction to the pool vacuum. These three controls can’t all be at 100%. When I want to vacuum the pool, I open that suction more and put the others less. Because I don’t have the time or attention to do this every day, the main drain get very little suction, the skimmer gets a little more, and the greatest suction is reserved for the vacuum that keeps the floor of the pool clean.

We can’t put 100% attention on ourselves and 100% attention on others at the same time. That adds up to 200%. The total percent for our attention is 100%. It can’t be higher than that. (There is no such thing as giving 110%–logically, someone can’t give more than everything). So in our lives, we should reflect on what is receiving the majority of our attention and effort. It is things that benefit us, or things that benefit others? Reflection on this question is the best way to answer the question “For whom do we really exist?” The correct answer is that we exist for others, and in serving others, we serve God. The challenge is to live a life that support this correct answer.

Remind yourself daily that we don’t just exist for ourselves. We exist to serve God by serving others. There are many ways to serve others. The one that comes with the lowest cost in terms of time and effort is encouragement.

+Fr. Stavros

Lord, thank You for creating me. Help me to always remember that You are the Creator. Whatever I may create in my life is possible first because You created me. Help me to recognize the greater purpose for my life isn’t to be all about me but to be all about You, and in serving You, I will serve others. Help me to remember this on a daily basis. Help this knowledge to motivate me to serve others. May I look for every opportunity to build up other people. And knowing that encouragement is one of the easiest ways to do this, help me to be a strong encourager, so that in encouraging and serving others, I may honor You. Amen.


Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

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 multiple books, you can view here:


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