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
We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
Fruits of the Spirit
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5: 22-23
St. Paul’s Treatise on Love—Part Three
Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13: 8-13
Good morning Prayer Team!
Learning should be a lifelong pursuit. And if love is the greatest commandment of God to us, then learning how to love better should also be a lifelong pursuit. Have a more committed love of God and a deeper love for our neighbor, these things should be things we seek to do throughout our lives, ideally every day of our lives.
Love never ends. The record of our love is what we will take to our final judgment before the Lord. Other things in life will pass away. Some of us will love long enough to retire. There will be a time when we will no longer be employed. For those of us with children, one day they will grow up and move away and will no longer be dependent on us (we hope). Cars will get old, clothing will wear out. A phone will be obsolete in only a few months. And years from now, we’ll use technology that hasn’t even been invented yet. Loved ones will get old and pass on. Nothing in life really stays consistent, except for faith, hope and love, the greatest of which is love. These never end. These are the things that will lead us to the Kingdom of heaven, or the things that will keep us out of it.
Our understanding of love changes, or at least it should change as we grow older. Children love in certain ways that are different than adults. On the negative side, they tend to associate love with getting something. They are more loving when you buy them a toy or let them stay up late. They fail to see that sometimes saying no is actually an act of love. That is negative. On the positive side, kids fight all the time, make up and keep playing together. This is a positive view of love.
Adults tend to hold grudges for longer. They forget the child-like forgiveness that comes so easily. And sadly, many adults are childish when it comes to “loving” only when someone does something for you. The challenge for us as adults is to be “child-like” without being “childish.” To forgive and restore love as we did as children—child-like—while loving without conditions.
We know a lot about love now. But even now, no matter how old we are and how much life we’ve lived, we still each have a ways to go to love God and to love others as we could, as we should, and as He desires for us to love Him and one another. To borrow from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we see in a mirror, dimly. What does that mean? It means that we experience God’s love, in part, through how we love one another. We see God, or fail to see Him, in how we love, or don’t love, others. Eventually we will see God face to face, and He will judge us based on how we loved in the mirror, how we saw God in others, how we saw Him in ourselves, and how we loved Him in our earthly lives.
Our wealth, our fame, our property, even our relationships, will not follow us when we die. Our faith, our hope and our love will, and these are the things that our eternal judgment will be based upon. And the greatest of these three is love, because love open the door to faith, and faith opens the door to hope. Without love, there can be no faith, and without faith, there is no hope, and if there is no hope, then there is no purpose.
So learn to love, and you’ll find faith. Find faith and you’ll find hope. Find hope and you’ll find purpose for your life. But it all begins with love.
One of my goals is to try to learn something new every day. I like to learn, I like to widen my base of knowledge. Why? So I can live a better life. My challenge, for myself, and I leave it for you, is to deepen your sense of love each day, so you can live a better Christian life and stand in better stead in preparation for eternal life.
Lord, teach me to love. Help me to love You more and more each day. Help me to learn to love others in a deeper way on a daily basis. As the years go by, help me to grow in love for Your and for others. Help me to remember to be child-like but not childish. Help me to leave childish love for unconditional love. Help me to have child-like forgiveness with love that is easily restored and renewed among those that I know. Amen.
Seek to grow in love for God and for others on a daily basis!
With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now.
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
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.
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