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
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are holding to your faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed. But we pray God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. II Corinthians 13:5-8
Good morning Prayer Team!
As we continue our week of relating scripture to school, today we will discuss the importance of testing. Examinations are part of any school program. In most classes, there isn’t just one final, but tests are given weekly, and sometimes more often, as a way to gauge the progress of the students. When I was a student, I was glad to have frequent tests because it helped me understand whether I was learning the material. How awful it would have been to have only a final and hope that I had learned something. Doing well on the tests along the way helped me feel confident when finals came around.
Our faith is tested all the time by something called temptation. Temptation threatens our faith on a daily basis. And it seems that the more faith you have, the greater the temptations are, because the devil is working overtime on the committed Christian. For the non-Christian and even for the lukewarm Christian, there is not as much work for him to do.
As our faith is tested by temptation, it is important for us to test ourselves in life. One way is through self-examination. Some questions you might ask yourself include:
- Am I using my talents in a way that glorifies God?
- Do I selflessly help others, expecting nothing in return?
- Do I regularly connect with the Lord through prayer and the reading of scripture?
- Am I among the first or the last to step forward to help when the call for help goes out?
In assessing situations and making decisions on what to do, especially when facing some kind of temptations, these are helpful examination questions:
- Is what I’m doing (or about to do) a smart thing to be doing?
- Is it safe? Will anyone get hurt? Will anyone be embarrassed or lose confidence?
- Will my decision please God? What would Christ say to me if He were standing right next to me?
- Is my decision something I might feel guilty about later?
Along with self-examination should come examination by others. We should be accountable to friends. We should go to confession, to be examined by a spiritual father or priest. In school, we didn’t write our own examination questions. The teachers and professors did that, because an expert in the field is much better able to assess mastery of a subject than our view of our own accomplishments. It’s the same in our spiritual life.
We should regularly ask ourselves these kinds of examination questions. Because answering these questions right throughout life will prepare us for the final exam, our judgment before the throne of God.
Lord, I know that I will be tested in some way today. There will be opportunities to glorify You and there will be opportunities to turn my back on You. There will be chances to help others and also chances to hurt others. Help me to make good choices, so that I may glorify You and help others. Give me the strength and confidence to stand up for what I know is right and to do what pleases You in all things today!
Do what pleases God today!
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