During the American Revolution, a man in civilian clothes rode past a group of soldiers repairing a small defensive barrier. Their leader was shouting instructions, but making no attempt to help them. Asked why by the rider, he retorted with great dignity, “Sir, I am a corporal!”
The stranger apologized, dismounted, and proceeded to help the exhausted soldiers. The job done, he turned to the corporal and said, “Mr. Corporal, next time you have a job like this and not enough men to do it, go to your commander-in-chief, and I will come and help you again.” The “stranger” was none other than George Washington. (From “Today in the Word,” March 6, 1991.)
Being a servant is something that is quite foreign for us humans. From the moment we push snooze, to the moment we return to slumber, we are thinking about the one and only, the unmistakable, the everything better be right, the better ideas and thoughts than you, the one and only ME! Sorry if that offends anyone, as it’s a generalization, but it is more true than it is false.
Think about how we go about our days. We get ourselves ready, making ourselves look good, so that others don’t think badly about us. We make our way to work, and when things don’t go as quickly or smoothly as we think they should, what happens?
Oh, yes, we begin to massage that thing called the horn or we practice counting with just one of our fingers.
And when we get to where we are going and the only spots available to park mean that we will have to walk an extra forty fee, what happens?
Oh yes, we suddenly turn the inside of our vehicle into an echo chamber of curses. Then, as we wipe the sweat from our brow, having walked an extra few steps, and made our way to our desks or whatever it may be we have another set of “how it’s gotta be’s” for the day.
Where does that land us by the end of the day?
What would our world look like if we applied the following: “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1 Peter 48-10a)
Think about it. If we spend more energy realizing who we have been made to be, rather than who we think we are, we would be more apt to serve those around us.
Sure, we are going to have our bad days. But even those days are blessed, for we are who we are because of one reason: Jesus Christ. The graces of God were that He sent His one and only Son to this earth to save us. For it was by this same selfishness that we struggle with, that Adam and Eve fell.
The sin of “me, me, me” radiates all throughout mankind, and God’s blessed story of humanity, but He promised to provide a means for making it right His Son. And His Son, Jesus did so, by living a perfect life on this earth, suffering a brutal beating for no crime committed, shedding His blood upon the cross, humiliating Himself through death and the tomb, finally conquering by rising from the grave, and eventually preparing our way to heaven by ascending.
We are able to serve others and in face, as the reading above states, called and commanded to do so, all because of the fact that Jesus first served us. That’s the gift you have forgiveness and freedom from sin. And that gift is what then works in your heart and moves you to serve those around you.
Yes, your day may not be the day you want it to be. Yes, you may not be treated by others the way you think you ought to be treated. Yes, you may be of a certain status in this world. But what does all of that have to do with who Jesus has made you to be?
George Washington didn’t have to get off the horse and help he could have commanded the corporal to get to work. But Washington’s wisdom knew that by setting an example, by serving his fellow brother, a bigger impact would be made.