A portion of the morning devotional that my lovely wife read for us this morning focused on the service of the people of God to our Lord, the individual efforts that we are to be serving with. My question I posed to her was this, who serves more, the one who is mowing the church yard, or the man who is on his knees in prayer? Her answer was both wrong and right at the same time, for she replied the one who is mowing and praying at the same time. This was only correct to a degree, for the one who is taking care of the church exterior is indeed in service, we are to be good stewards of what we have received from His hands, (James 1:17) yet what must always be kept in mind is the difference between the temporal and the eternal, the amount of effort that we place on these two extremes is what determines in many cases the spiritual discernment of a born-again believer, one task will remain for eternity, while the other, the earthly needs and requirements, if you will, are only fleeting.
It is the heart that the Lord looks upon, (1 Sam. 16:7) if you are taking care of what you have been blessed with because at this point in your walk with Christ you are unsure of any other service to Him, because it is the right thing to do and the best way that you know how to glorify His name, than my wonderful wife’s statement was correct, one can continue in the maintenance of these materialistic items while serving Christ in doing so, but if you are only mowing the yard, picking up sticks, washing the car because it needs in your mind to be done, then you are not serving as your words portray. Many times it is nothing more than make work, items to keep us busy, to fill the day, things that keep us from true service to Christ.
These individuals can always find something that “needs” to be done, they can waste an entire day while remaining busy, constantly performing tasks in the temporal, for the world only, remaining profitable only in their minds, for they are good stewards, they “Work as unto the Lord,” their minds are not on Him though. There is a difference between the individual who concentrates on the world and the one who contemplates the mind of Christ, there is a difference between the one who has large portions of the Scriptures memorized and the one who spends quite time pondering and applying those verses in their heart. Busy work will keep you occupied, one who seeks diligently the face of Christ will find little rest here.
My beautiful wife was both correct and incorrect at the same time, but then the question posed, while seemingly simple, was quite complex in its nature, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16) “And the LORD said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his LORD shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?” (Luke 12:42) These go hand in hand in some cases, but rarely have I found the one who works in the world and for the things of the world to be a contemplative individual. The man who seeks Christ finds little time for the cares of the world, they are bothersome and a burden to him, they take away time for the eternal, they are known and seen as part of the curse laid upon man by Almighty God. the man who finds peace in the presence of Christ through prayer rarely can find that same peace when attending to the things of the world, but nevertheless he must attain to them as much as is possible to do so.
The one who needs something to do, something to fill their days with rarely knows this peace of simply remaining still and finding joy in the Lord, they have a strong desire to remain busy, to find something, anything to do, and so they easily fall into the system, the trap, of works, all the while calling it “Working as unto the Lord.” “But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.” (Luke 10:40) I have always wondered, did Martha turn and head back into the kitchen, under her breath speaking words she should not have said, did her heart know a form of anger because she thought herself to be doing the “better thing,” after all, people have to eat, the house is a mess, things need to be taken care of, or did she understand, leave her apron and towel at the table and come and sit at the Master’s feet beside her sister, or maybe the Lord looked at Mary with a look that let her know that perhaps it would be best if she went and helped her sister prepare the food, I don’t know, none of us do, but I cannot find anywhere in the Scriptures where the Lord commanded us to make sure the things of the world were taken care of before our service to Him is.
If we do not “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness,” (Matt. 6:33) then all the work that you are doing in and for the world is nothing more than make work, deceiving yourself that you are working as unto the Lord when in reality all you are doing is trying to keep busy. Far too many who call Christ Lord have fallen into this trap, in fact I believe nearly everyone of us has at one time or another, it is the wise man only who can see it, it is the spiritually discerning individual that can indeed separate the two, and then can live in harmony with both, truly able to work as unto the Lord.
My lovely wife was both correct and incorrect, but there must be a time in each of our days when we stop what we are doing, put all distractions away, and sit quietly before our Lord, listening with intent ears and heart to what He is trying to say to us, the world will wait for a while, it is the better thing to do.