When someone does the unexpected for you it feels good, right? When Bev illness was critical and my energy reserves were near zero, I often came home to find our laundry done and left neatly folded, ready to be put away. A small thing? Perhaps but in that context, it was a huge gift!
When it snows, I drive across the road to my neighbor’s home and use my plow to clear his drive. He’s grateful for that gesture of kindness that costs me so little.
In the ‘hurry up’ world in which I live, I try to remember to speak a kind word to the person waiting on me. Too many times to remember, when some person is tired or stressed, I ask, “Been a long day?” Most of the time they respond to that little kindness with a smile. Why? Because I ‘served’ them by caring.
Then, too, there are those days when I am pressed or absorbed in my responsibilities and I forget to care or become impatient. It hurts me when I note that I have diminished another’s worth by being selfish!
You probably have stories of kindness as well as lack of compassion, too.
Perhaps some of you have known something worse than that, having been treated with contempt or cruelty. How do we respond to every situation? Read on.
In this season of Lent, when we remind ourselves of the disciplines of the Christian life, let us not forget that discipline of SERVICE. In his worthy book, The Celebration of Discipline, a practical description of our Christian life, Richard Foster includes these powerful lines. “Nothing disciplines the inordinate desires of the flesh like service, and nothing transforms the desires of the flesh like serving in hiddenness. The flesh whines against service but screams against hidden service. It strains and pulls for honor and recognition. It will devise subtle, religiously acceptable means to call attention to the service rendered. If we stoutly refuse to give in to this lust of the flesh, we crucify it. Every time we crucify the flesh, we crucify our pride and arrogance.” Before you go on, would you go back and read those words again.
Americans in 2017 are noisy about their ‘rights.’ So many are desperately concerned that someone will steal their dignity. This attitude of ‘serve me’ has crept into the Church. In all of our clamor for recognition and even for ‘fairness’ we seem to have forgotten the command of our Savior and Lord to forget ourselves, to give ourselves away as we say, “Hey, let me help you.” Jesus said, “But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22:26-28, NLT)
Perhaps those words about service seem only like drudgery, duty?
Do they read as soul-killing Law to you?
Truthfully, service without love turns into servitude. However, when we love others because we are loved, we find life and joy in doing laundry, listening to another’s sorrow, caring for the sick, teaching a class of rowdy kids, cleaning a bathroom, or doing our job with excellence even when the supervisor seems blind to our efforts. Christian, ultimately we are serving Jesus. Remember His words, “whatever you do for the least, you do it for Me!” Put the face of Jesus on your kids who forget to thank you, on that spouse who is careless about appreciation, on that person in your extended family who asks much and gives nothing.
Here is a word from the Word. Jesus told a story of a man who hired people throughout the day. Some worked the full day, some just an hour, but all received the same pay! When there was a protest, the employer answered it like this. Hear the truth found in these words. Our focus for ourselves is not ‘fairness’ but ‘faithfulness.’ “He replied to the one speaking for the rest, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair. We agreed on the wage of a dollar, didn’t we? So take it and go. I decided to give to the one who came last the same as you. Can’t I do what I want with my own money? Are you going to get stingy because I am generous?’
“Here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.” (Matthew 20:13-16, The Message)
Lord, help us to delight in serving, knowing that You never forget what is done in Your Name. Amen.
A Charge To Keep I Have
A charge to keep I have
A God to glorify
A never dying soul to save
And fit it for the sky
To serve the present age
My calling to fulfill
O may it all my powr’s engage
To do my Master’s will
Arm me with jealous care
As in Thy sight to live
And O Thy servant Lord prepare
A strict account to give
Charles Wesley © Words: Public Domain