Picture in your mind a handful of Christians within the last century whom you admire. It could be people you know personally or people you have read about. What makes them admirable? Why do you look upon them as giants in the faith? Is it a quality about them? Their actions? Their teaching?
Who did you come up with?
My own list is rather short, and only a handful would likely be well-known. These are people who offered up their lives in service. They act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, loving the way Jesus loves.
Individuals who tend to be glorified—both in the world and in the broader Christian community—are typically those who do the “great things.” They travel to far-off countries to preach the gospel or build schools. They take monumental risks, standing in harm’s way for the sake of Christ. They speak nationally (or even internationally), write books, or are commendable in their acts of service. It seems they are ever in the spotlight, catching the eye of both Christians and the secular world.
Their work is riveting—the stuff of legend.
I appreciate these brethren so much. We need strong leaders; we need people who take the risk of being in the spotlight; and we need individuals willing to carry the gospel to dangerous places. They often walk around with a huge target on their back as Satan attempts to unravel them in the most humiliating way possible. He longs to tarnish their work for the Lord, insidiously appealing to their pride and humanity. These individuals need our prayers for their spiritual protection and the wisdom to remain humble in heart.
On the flip-side, there is a tendency to admire the “great” acts involving risk and adventure, while diminishing the “dull” acts of daily, dutiful service.
Duty is a dirty word these days. Duty sounds so mundane, so boring.
Where is the glamour in changing diapers, folding laundry, cleaning toilets, or managing the household budget?
Where is the glory in teaching toddler and kindergarten bible classes?
Who esteems the dad who works 9-5 (and overtime) to provide for his family?
Who praises the mom who works all day and uses the last few waking hours to care for her family?
It’s all so… ordinary. Nobody is going to make a movie about my monthly budget struggles. #Yawn
Duty sounds magnificent when paired with soldiers going off to risk their lives “in the line of…” but it sounds monotonous when coupled with the repetitive and ordinary responsibilities of life. In reality, finding dependable and dutiful people is a bit like mining for gold—we often come up with a bucket full of mud.
Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love,
but a faithful man who can find?
~ Proverbs 20.6, ESV
What if, instead of looking at our duties as drudgeries, we offered them as service to God?
Only God has the power to take what is ordinary and make it truly extraordinary. We are called to give every small task to the God who sees in secret.
So what if nobody notices the hours you pour into educating your children.
So what if you never have a book written about your life.
So what if the world never praises you for your deeds.
Someone far more important notices every act of service—both big and small.
This “Someone” is the Creator of the vast universe and the invisible atom. He knows the whereabouts of the plainest sparrow and the number of hairs on every human head. The Lord of Heaven and Earth notices everything.
Paul wrote to the Christians in Collosae:
Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
~ Colossians 3.17, ESV
Notice the “whatever” in Colossians. This could involve facing a firing squad for Christ, or facing the toddler squad in your house. Training up children properly demands self-sacrifice. The “whatever” encompasses everything we do in this life. Whatever you do, commit it to the Lord.
Immediately after this verse, Paul gives these commands:
Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.
(Colossians 3.18-22, ESV)
Sounds pretty plain and simple, doesn’t it? I submit to you that keeping a marriage together requires committed love (aka duty). Obeying parents requires consistent duty. Training up children demands dutiful persistence. God wants committed, dutiful people.
Paul concludes with this:
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
~ Colossians 3.23-24, ESV
There it is again—Whatever you do!
If you view your tasks as offerings to the Lord, it makes them less ordinary. Working for the Lord removes the drudgery and replaces it with joy. Instead of halfway, grudging service, we will give our level best.
Wherever you are today—cleaning house, filing reports, writing papers, grading exams, or leading the country—offer your work to the Lord. Seek to please Him.
In my next post, we will look at an extraordinary man whose story involved forty years of doing ordinary things!