“Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people,”
Colossians 3:23 CSB
Many years ago, when my children were young, the Lord gave me an object lesson that I still remember to this day — a couple of decades hence. I would love to be able to tell you that I immediately learned and applied this object lesson and forever reaped the benefits of it.
Alas, I cannot tell a lie!
I, like the Hebrew children who went round and round the same mountain for 40 years before completing what should have been an 11 day journey, have been circling this object lesson for over 20 years. (See Deuteronomy 1:2,6)
Does this make me a slow learner or a stubborn child? If I continue on with the reference to the children of Israel the answer would have to be the latter. (Excuse me while I kick myself into the middle of next week! Actually, I am so far behind, I need to kick myself into the middle of the 21st century!)
On with the object lesson…
I was cleaning house and doing laundry one weekday morning. With an 8 year old and a 2 year old and a husband, there was always much that needed cleaning and laundering. As usual, I was complaining about this unending task, for which I never received any recognition or help and which was futile and never ending, and, and, and… (Can you hear the whining tone in my voice yet?)
I wasn’t just complaining to myself, I was complaining to God about how my husband took me for granted and expected me to ______________ (fill in the blank with favorite complaint). This particular day it was picking up his dirty socks for the umpteenth time. “Lord, if he really loved me, he would put his dirty clothes in the hamper and not just expect me to do it for him! Haven’t I asked him to do this like a million times?”
In the midst of this tirade, Jesus spoke something into my heart that stopped me in my tracks. While it was not an audible voice, it was unmistakably Him, because at that moment, I would not have had that thought pop into my mind. Without berating me for my awful attitude, He just said,
“What if those were my socks?”
I then got the clearest picture in my mind of Jesus walking down a winding, dusty path, randomly dropping dirty socks behind Him as He went. Paying me no mind, just doing what He was doing, while dropping socks.
Can you guess what I was doing? I was hurrying after Him, of course, stooping down to grab those socks almost before they could reach the ground!
Was I yelling after Him, “Hey, Jesus, stop dropping those socks! Why should I have to pick them up? What about personal responsibility? Have You considered my feelings?”
Not one of those selfish questions occurred to me in that moment. I was just hurrying to pick up His socks before someone else could rush in to do it.
As I said earlier, I so wish I could say that I learned this object lesson perfectly on that day and never complained again about my husband not _________ (fill in the blank with pet peeve). Jesus does still tenderly remind me of this object lesson from time to time and the picture is still as clear in my mind as it was that day so long ago.
The point of this confession about my stubborn, selfish heart, is to remind myself and anyone who may be reading who has ever struggled with similar attitudes to picture Jesus in the place of the person we are serving with a less than ideal attitude. We must remember that Jesus told us when we do something for the least of His brethren, we do it for Him. And when we won’t do something for someone, we are withholding from Him.
If it was always easy to fulfill Colossians 3:23, would it have been included in Scripture? Probably not. If we humans were naturally unselfish creatures who always did the right thing with the right attitude, would God have had to teach us how to walk in righteousness? No.
Since “there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1), I don’t have to beat myself up every time I miss the mark. I can confess and repent and try again. God is not faithful to me because of my faithfulness. He is faithful because it is His nature to be and He cannot deny Himself.
This heading should read “Our Turn.” I dare say I need this more than any of you who may read this!
Let us strive to remember that when we serve others it is Christ we serve. When we love others, it is Him we love. Let us be quick to repent when we act selfishly instead of selflessly. May the God of all grace grant us each the grace we need to walk in His footsteps, rushing after Him to pick up His dropped socks.
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