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Well done

I wonder how many of us could say we have done well with Mother Teresa's challenges to "be faithful in the small things because it is in them that your strength lies." Our strength lies not in the greatness we achieve, but in the faithfulness we manifest in doing the things that it is likely nobody will notice! I think that is what Jesus had in mind when he challenged his disciples to tell them what they had spent so much time arguing about while on a journey one day. It was right after they had been out on a mission with Jesus, listening to him teach, seeing him work miracles, observing great deliverance from lifelong disease and demon-possession. They find themselves right where we find ourselves many times - wondering who will be the greatest among them - who will be the 'most favored' of all the disciples Jesus. Isn't it strange that we worry about who will 'rise to the top' more than we think about all that can be accomplished just by being faithful in the little things?

And so they arrived at Capernaum. When they were settled in the house where they were to stay, he asked them, “What were you discussing out on the road?” But they were ashamed to answer, for they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest! He sat down and called them around him and said, “Anyone wanting to be the greatest must be the least—the servant of all!” Then he placed a little child among them; and taking the child in his arms he said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my name is welcoming me, and anyone who welcomes me is welcoming my Father who sent me!” (Mark 9:33-37)

I think I might be ashamed to answer if Jesus just came right out and asked me point blank such a question. Oh, wait...he has asked that question of me on more than one occasion! I am pretty sure that I am not the only one that gets their undies in a wad on occasion when someone seems to get all the credit for the work others have done, am I? I think that is what irked me so much about having to do all those team projects in school - someone usually did more work than the others, but we ALL received the same grade for the project. It didn't seem fair - isn't that what envy is all about - someone gets more than we think they deserve? Faithfulness isn't about always receiving the credit - it is about putting forth whatever effort God expects of us, consistently and without fail, and letting him get the credit!

The disciples were just asking the logical question any group would ask - so don't judge them too harshly. They were used to a system of 'checks and balances' that allowed certain 'privileges' as a result of certain efforts. It was how every government or religious system of the day worked. You do well by the king and you were elevated to a place of prominence in his government. You could work the fields for years and years, never being noticed, but one day you uncover a plot to kill the king, sending a message in earnest hope it reaches his court before the vile offense can be carried out, and the next day you are wearing royal garb! No wonder they were focused on 'who would be first' in God's kingdom. It was just natural that they would think that way.

Jesus challenged them, though. He used a simple illustration that revealed to them something they had overlooked - it is about embracing service, not about striving for greatness. Don't be afraid to embrace the little things in life with all the fervor you can bring forth. It isn't in the big things we do that we find our greatest joy - it is the day by day faithfulness to the little things that we find our reward. We think our reward is based on what others will see and notice, but our reward is most often found in the simple words, "Well done, thy good and faithful servant"...the words Jesus speaks deep into our soul, not shouted out for public display. Just sayin!

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