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.


And Jesus called to Him His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay.
Matthew 10:1, 5-8 (3rd Gospel)
We spend much of our lives earning money and paying money for things. That is an unavoidable part of life, and it is not necessarily bad or sinful. It is a noble thing to work. It is a noble thing to provide for a family. It is necessary to buy food and clothes for our family, to pay medical bills, to pay for educational needs, and many other things. We work, we earn money, and we buy things we need and even luxuries that we want. There is nothing sinful about this at all. In fact, this cycle is one of responsibility.
However, there are lots of things that money can’t buy. For instance, money cannot buy us time. It can’t add to the span of our life. We don’t have to pay God in order to wake up each morning, the same way we pay another month’s rent to live in an apartment. God blessed us with each day out of His love, and nothing more. He freely gave us this day.
Because we spend so much of our effort earning and buying, we don’t think about blessings enough. We think more about entitlements. We work hard. We are entitled to a paycheck. We have a great year at work, and we feel entitled to a raise or a bonus. We work all year and we are entitled to a vacation.
Society tells us that the lifespan is a certain age. We feel entitled to live to that age. And when we reach that age, we feel entitled to more. We don’t think of each day as a blessing.
There are other things that money can’t buy. We can’t buy forgiveness. That is a gift from God, and from anyone who extends it to us. We can’t buy love. God loves us, no matter how much money we make. Love is a choice. We choose to love others. Others choose to love us. Mercy can’t be bought. God doesn’t extend more mercy to the one who has more money. Rather, He extends mercy to those who believe, those who repent, and those who ask for it. Repentance can’t be bought. It also is a choice. Salvation can’t be bought either. It is a gift from God.
In Matthew 10:8, Jesus tells us “You received without paying, give without pay.” What does that mean? We receive many blessings from God. First, we receive the blessing of life itself. God blesses us with each day. God loves us. That is a blessing. God forgives us. God has mercy on us. For the amount of sins we each commit, the fact that we are still alive, the fact that He allows us to succeed even in the midst of egregious spiritual failures, is a sign of His mercy.
If God continually blesses us, in gifting us things that money can’t buy, then we are supposed to bless others in the same way. We receive blessings from God without paying for them. We are supposed to give blessings to others, we are supposed to bless others with things they don’t have to buy from us, even things they don’t deserve from us.
We are supposed to forgive others. Each time we sin, we are sinning against God. So, if I have ten friends and sin against each ten times, then I’ve sinned against God 100 times. If I hope for God to forgive my 100 sins against Him, shouldn’t I be willing to forgive a friend for ten sins?
God loves us, whether we deserve it or not. Therefore, we should be eager to love others. That doesn’t mean confide in everyone, trust in everyone, or be best friends with everyone. It does mean to show respect and concern for everyone. If God loves each of us, whether we deserve it or not, the least we can do is show respect and concern for everyone, and make sure those around us feel safe at all times.
God is merciful. He extends His mercy toward us, even when we don’t deserve it. In Romans 6:23, St. Paul writes, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” If God is willing to show mercy on us, despite our many sins, we should have mercy on each other. If God is willing to offer His mercy for free, out of His abundance of love and compassion for us, then we should be willing to offer love and compassion for free and to offer it abundantly to those around us. After all, how can we receive something for free and then turn around and charge someone else for the same thing we received abundantly and for free? This is why Jesus says that we have received without paying, we are to give without expecting pay. This does not refer to the exchanging of goods and services, but the exchanging of blessings—love, mercy, forgiveness, compassion, and the many things that money cannot buy.
There is also a call to be generous with the things that money can buy. God desires for us to have material sufficiency so that we can live, but also extra to share. Giving from what we earn in the form of generosity and charity is something that God calls us to do. Taxation is something else. That is compulsory giving. It is not philanthropy or charity. God calls on us to be generous with others not out of obligation, but out of gratitude. It is important that we give even from that which we worked for. Why? Because the ability to work is a blessing. A talent that allows one to earn an income has its source as God’s blessing on us to have that talent. Because God gave me a talent to be a priest, (and others to be a doctor or engineer, or whatever talent He has blessed us with) and that talent allows me to earn a wage that provides my material needs, that talent is not just something I’ve cultivated, but something God blessed me with. Thus, the wages I earn are not entitlements but blessings, and a generous portion of these should be given back in the form of philanthropy and charity towards others.
O Holy unmercenaries and Wonder-workers, visit our infirmities; freely you have received, freely give to us.
Be generous with mercy, love, compassion, forgiveness, and charity.


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: https://amzn.to/3nVPY5M


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