My farm day last week was a sloppy mess. It had rained buckets, and the water hadn’t drained off yet. Even so, chores needed to be done! The horses didn’t stop leaving “presents” to be gathered and hauled away just because the ground was muddy. I was very grateful for my farm boots and wool socks, let me tell you!
Sometimes life is just as messy, if not more so. And when life gets messy in one arena, it can spread to other arenas as well. A few of the horses had decided that the soft mud was a welcome change from the hard, frozen ground of the previous week, and had taken a roll in it! They seemed quite content in their new mud coats.
As followers of Christ, we are called to serve one another in love. Paul encouraged the church in Galatia, “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13 NLT) There is no “on good days only” clause given.
Peter writes, “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” (1 Peter 4:10) And, “all of you, serve each other in humility, for “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5) No “only when conditions are right for all involved” stipulation provided!
Service gets messy, no matter how we’re serving. There are times when we serve in the midst of someone else’s mess, sometimes we bring the mess, and sometimes we are the mess! But none of these are necessarily reason to refrain from serving. Yes, there are times we need to take a step back and allow ourselves to be served, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about serving through messy times and seasons of life, whether our own or someone else’s. We need to serve through our good days and bad days, and serve in spite of others’ poor attitudes brought on by their bad times.
If you’ve ever had a child, you know that no matter how big their mess, your love for them is without bounds. You’ll go through times of extreme frustration, barely-sane exhaustion, deep disappointment and unspeakable joy; but no matter what, your love as a parent is unstoppable. Just like God’s love for his children.
You are loved beyond comprehension, and so is every other child of God! When things happen in their lives affecting their walk with Christ, we can be the ones leading them back to the lover of their souls instead of being the ones retreating and pointing fingers of judgment at them. They are worth every bit of time and energy we can put into being the hands and feet of Jesus to them.
Speaking of Jesus…remember what He did for his disciples? He washed their feet. He served them in humility, mess and all. When He was done, He told them, “I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” (John 13:15) Should we not serve likewise?
But what about when we bring the mess? How can we serve if we’re not all tidied up? It seems strange, but sometimes service is exactly what we need to step into in order to get straightened back up again! Serving shoulder-to-shoulder with others strengthens our own walk, even if it is uncomfortable. That discomfort may actually smooth out some of our rough edges, making us more fit for the work we’ve set out to do. “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” (Proverbs 27:17)
Don’t discredit yourself because you don’t measure up to some impossible standard! Humbling yourself to serve others in whatever capacity you are able will bring growth that won’t happen any other way.
So, friend, where do you find yourself today? Are you serving others in love and humility, whether or not conditions are perfect? Remember, there are no conditions put on the call to serve. We’re just told to do it.
Put on your boots, and get out there, friend!