As you serve the Lord, work hard and don’t be lazy. Be excited about serving him!
(Romans 12:11 ERV)
The late Peter Marshall said, "The measure of life is not its duration, but its donation." Let that one take hold for just a moment, then ask yourself what it is you have "donated" to the lives around you this week. What are you "giving" of yourself in the relationships you have around you? How are you meeting the needs of those who rely upon you or look to you for assistance? Some will answer that they went to work, provided food on the table, and gave them a roof over their heads. Others will say they wrote a check, made a donation, or joined an organization that supports a cause. I'd have to ask if we are really making that much of a donation in our relationships or toward our "causes", though. There is nothing more important than you giving of yourself - not just your funds.
Doesn't our passage tell us to work hard and not be lazy? Yes, but don't take it out of context - for the context lends to the passage invaluable evidence of being invested into the lives of those we walk alongside. It begins with us allowing God to change us from the inside out - affecting the way we process information, find satisfaction and fulfillment, and interact with each other. To this, Paul adds the importance of not seeing ourselves more highly than we should - for no one can serve when they have their heads in the clouds, or are too "good" for that. Being many, with differing abilities and gifts, we are to serve one another - utilizing those abilities and gifts to build up and not tear down.
I think this is the hardest lesson to really get our hands around, for time seems to trick us into thinking we don't have enough time to really "serve" as we should. We do a very cursory job of "serving" each other simply because we believe the lie that "time" isn't available or is more urgently needed in order to accomplish "something else". The time it takes to just meet the need of another seems "wasted" to some, but to the one receiving that gift, it means the world. We watched a little movie over our holiday weekend about a wealthy, really driven man who had pretty much destroyed two relationships and ignored his two children - one from each relationship. He was sent into a coma as the result of an accident and his life's "spirit" was placed into a cat.
That cat became the companion of the daughter he had ignored for so many years. In those days that ensued, with his family wondering if he'd make it off life-support and arouse from the coma, he had to learn the lessons of life through the eyes of a cat. Now, this is kind of a far-fetched story, cute in its own way, and a little bit sappy, but you get the moral of the story right off. We cannot ignore those we are given for what it is we might get. We don't learn to serve at the top of the ladder - we learn to serve by being the ladder by which others may ascend to their places of greatness in this life.
We all have those moments when another stands in need - may we be sensitive to meet that need with ourselves, not just our resources. Just sayin!