October 29, 2012

Do not despise small things

When starting out on my journey with Jesus Christ, the ambitions of my old life came with me. I wanted to do great things for God, but God has a different plan. He starts small and if a person is faithful in those little things, maybe then the responsibilities will increase, but only then. As Jesus said,

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? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Luke 16:10–13)

This is about money, but money is not the only master that a person can serve. What about pride, achievement, popularity, personal passions and ambitions? Before I became a Christian, I had all sorts of grand ideas. After my conversion, I tried to sanctify them. “Doing this for God” seemed super-spiritual and I wanted to reach great heights in whatever I attempted.

A fragment of a verse comes to mind. It is about the attitude of God’s people as they work to rebuild the temple. The prophet reproves them for thinking it wasn’t a big deal compared to the first one.

For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice… (Zechariah 4:10)

The people scorned this humble replacement, but Zechariah knows they have begun a great thing. He affirms that their progress in the work, though not as grand, would result in success because God’s hand was upon this work. Their problem was not the job they were doing but their attitude toward it.
Today’s devotional writer talks about the common activities of life. We can consider them insignificant. However, it isn’t the actions that God wants to be above all else, but the motivations. When a Christian has Christlike motives, then even ordinary tasks are elevated to godly service.

(Jesus) rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:4–5)

Jesus was demonstrating God’s love to His disciples by doing a task ordinarily done by a slave. It was a ritual of hospitality, like hanging up a visitor’s coat or offering them a cup of tea, but in those days, slaves did the service. Peter was so horrified with Jesus offering this that he refused, but Jesus told him that even the act of receiving loving service was an important part of being a child of God. 

When I apply this to my ambitions as a beginner Christian, I can see where I started out with foolish ideas. Jesus wants His people to do ordinary things in a sanctified and extraordinary way. Washing feet is only one example of how I can minister to others. The idea is that I humble myself and do what blesses other people in the power of the Holy Spirit and by the grace of God. It might not be a great thing. In fact, it usually isn’t. Yet in the doing, I’m not thinking about myself, but how I can serve them and please God.

Furthermore, Jesus wants me to start small. I think I’ve figured out why. Small, common acts of service are never going to put my ego on a pedestal. I may not be thanked either. Besides that, He wants me to learn that the details of life are never insignificant. Instead, the issue is my inability to make these details an interpretation of the love of Christ. I’m to stop despising small things and focus on doing whatever tasks God asks of me with gratitude aiming for His glory, no matter their size.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

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