By Debra Whittington
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24
When asked to help decorate for a deacon ordination dinner, my thoughts turned to table decorations. Last year we had fresh cut Iris that weren’t only beautiful but also had a sweet fragrance. We decided to do the same thing this year.
As I sat at home thinking about the decorations my eyes focused on a decorative water pitcher sitting above the kitchen cabinets. What would it be like to use pitchers to hold the flowers? The pitchers could serve as a symbol of the early deacons who waited on tables as described in Acts 6.
My eye drifted over to the blue mixing bowl, part of a set that once belonged to Grandma. The bowls were a gift from my dad when he was only seven years old. Grandma used those bowls on a regular basis for many years but eventually quit using two of them.
When I inherited the set of bowls I noticed the largest one had a large crack in it. The blue bowl, the middle size one, was famous in our family. Grandma always made potato salad in the blue bowl for every family gathering. It also went to church dinners always coming home empty. It was used to mix potato salad before being placed in disposable bowls to deliver to people who were sick or had suffered a death in their family. During its lifetime the blue bowl was well used and ministered to numerous people.
Now the blue bowl sits in a place of honor in my home because I am afraid to use it because of its age and the chance that it could get broke. It is still at work however because it reminds me of not only of the many happy memories of my youth, but also the importance of service to others.
I let my thoughts drift and found myself thinking of paper plates and plastic utensils. Unlike the blue bowl that served for almost 70 years, they are used once and thrown away. I also thought about other items that are used to serve food from platters to punch bowls.
Each one of these dishes, bowls, and other serving pieces has special and specific uses and are each as important. I thought about their use and how it relates to our spiritual lives. Just as they have special and specific uses, so do all Christians in the kingdom of God.
Disposable plates, cups, and utensils, serve a short-term purpose. There are those who accept Jesus and are anxious to be baptized. They are excited about the Lord and are ready to serve God. This enthusiasm is quickly extinguished after one or two times of service. They are like the seeds in Matthew 13:5-6 that were shown in shallow soil. They sprouted quickly but soon wilted. These Christians fall away never to be used by God again.
The cracked mixing bowl represents Christians who were hurt. They once served God faithfully until something happened to shatter their lives. It could be something as simple as a hurtful word spoken to them at church or a traumatic event in their life that left them scarred. Whatever the case, they were hurt and quit going to church. The hurt festered and eventually they quit being of service to God.
In the midst of all of this are the various other serving pieces. Christians are called to many areas of service that are different but equally important. God gives all Christians gifts and areas of service. No cook would try to serve soup on a serving platter or a whole turkey in a soup bowl.
Finally, there are those people who are like the blue bowl. Through many decades they faithfully used their gifts to serve God. They were willing to serve wherever or whenever the Lord called them. They knew without a shadow of doubt what the Lord called them to do and they did it willingly and promptly.
They are well known throughout their realm of influence as a man or woman of God, steadfast and enduring to the end. Paul was one of these Christians. At the end of his life he wrote in 2 Timothy 4:7 that he had finished his course.
In our church are several senior saints who say the same thing. While their physical health took its toll and they are unable to still serve, they have a purpose. They are set in a place of honor to remind the rest of us how we should live and serve.
There will come a day when our service is over on this earth. On that day I long to hear the Lord say, “well done.” (Matthew 25:21)