September 11, 2011

The little things

Those who think, “This is just a child’s pair of mittens. I’ll do a better job knitting my next sweater” or “No one knows me in this crowd, I’ll behave much better in church” have missed a fundamental truth. It is hinted at in the incident where Jesus ministered to His disciples. 
If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. (John 13:14)
While some congregations take this literally and consider foot-washing an ordinance, it seems that Jesus had more in mind. He demonstrated to them and to us that loving others is about being God’s person in ordinary life, no matter where we are. 

Jesus humbly did a menial usually reserved for servants. Today’s devotional asks if I can use a towel as Jesus did? Do I see and take opportunities in the ordinary things of life to be a blessing to others? It is the daily stuff that reveals what I will be like in other surroundings. I cannot muster up “better” in the big things if I am not doing my best in the smaller ordinary tasks.

In fact, no Christian can do anything, big or small, as it ought to be done apart from the indwelling power of Jesus Christ. He is our source and resource, our very life. The love He showed to His disciples and wants me to show to others comes from the Vine to the branches. Unless I am abiding in Him and totally relying on Him, there are no inner resources for loving service at any time or place.

Jesus said that what He did was an example. I am supposed to care for others as He did. This is not about feet washing but about treating people with loving consideration. Not only that, the devotional says to watch the kind of people God brings into my life. My response to them will reveal the kind of person I am. If I am constantly running into and being annoyed by rude, thoughtless and arrogant people, maybe God is showing me the need for change in my own life. Am I also rude, thoughtless and arrogant? If that is true, I need forgiveness and cleansing. I also need to learn how to respond to those people as Jesus treats me, even using whatever is at hand to be a blessing. Can I do that? Can I be what He asks?

One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? (Luke 16:10–12)
Faithful in the little things means that I’m not thinking I will speak for God and teach His truth only when I am in front of a Bible study class, but “it doesn’t matter” in other situations. Ignoring smaller opportunities instead of waiting for bigger ones is like “trying to produce the munitions of war in the trenches.” Waiting for “more important” things to do could find me woefully short of resources should they come along. Besides, I would look and feel like a hypocrite, a pitiful Sunday-only Christian that is only faithful when it suits me.
God, You are speaking again about continual obedience. It isn’t enough to have a “ministry” that I do each Sunday. You want me to rely on You and Your strength for every moment of every day. My “class” is bigger than the group that comes into the room each week at church. You give me many opportunities. All the people that I meet in other situations also need to know about You.

Sometimes I must open my mouth and tell them. Sometimes You want me to get a towel and wash their feet. Living for You means paying attention all the time and seeing the opportunities all around me. If I’m not polite to rude drivers on the freeway, how can I be polite to needy people on Sunday? I need to rely on You all the time to do whatever You want me to do — on Sunday mornings, but also every moment of every day.

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