My grandmother taught me that God made each one of us with gifts that are to be used for the greater good, in service to others and that God expects us to utilize these gifts with excellence. Not for ourselves, but for the benefit of others. She taught me that service to others is not a job; it is a state of mind. She also taught me that if you can’t do a job well – don’t do the job. Find someone who knows how to do it, learn how to do and become better at it. Work at it until you are good at it, then you’ll be ready to do the job. Not half-hearted but with real commitment. What was the goal of my Grandmothers life? One goal – to hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant” when she entered Glory. Now, my Granny Dot was not a prominent or powerful woman. She was the classic farmer’s wife; a loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother; friend and teacher to many and a Woman of God. These simple words of wisdom are how she lived her life; displayed everyday in word and in deed.
I have found this concept to be foreign or so confused in today’s culture that it is unrecognizable. I have struggled, prayed and cried over the lack of fulfillment in myself and others, in the promise of what could have been or what might be, not because we can’t do something, but because we choose not to. Instead we choose to live in the ‘what’s in it for me’ world of today. We chose not to get involved in our community. We chose not to be part of our church's mission. We chose not to help that neighbor or friend. We choose not to! Not because we can’t, but because it would interfere with what we have planned for ourselves. I have heard (and said) the words ‘what’s in it for me’ too often. The “I only have one day that I get to sleep in” – “My schedule is so busy” – “I don’t have time to learn how to do that” – and my all-time favorite (yes, that was sarcasm) – ‘that's just not my thing’. Have we missed the opportunities to fulfill our promise? I don’t know the answer to that question, but it is one that I ponder and pray over frequently. I'm not condemning but questioning. I'm including myself in this long list of missed opportunities. Yes, I do know that we live busy lives and there are only so many minutes in a day. Yes, I do know that NO, is a good word and that we some of us don't use it often enough and become burnt out. That's not what I'm voicing here. What I am voicing is concern about the things that we allow to take precedence in our lives today. The 'what's in it for me" mentality.
Here is a question for you. Do you think Jesus asked himself ‘what’s in it for me’ when in John 13: 1-5 we read these words from the NLT: “1 Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. 2 It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. 4 So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, 5 and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.”
Jesus knew – He knew! How do you read the words? Jesus knew what? He knew that the time was coming quickly when He would not only give over His Body, but His Mind, His Will, and His Strength. What for? ‘What was in it for Him’?
Jesus knew what? He knew that Judas had already betrayed him. Read those words from John closely. He loved His disciples. It doesn’t say that Jesus loved eleven of His disciples. It says he loved His disciples. It means Jesus also washed the feet of Judas. That means that Jesus loved Judas and He also knew what he had done. ‘What was in it for Him’?
Jesus knew what? He knew that God, The Father – the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, had given Him authority over everything. Jesus knew that He had all the authority of heaven at His fingertips. Jesus knew this – He knew and what did He choose to do? Did he ask himself ‘what’s in this for me’? No, He chose to become a servant. Not just to wash the feet of the disciples; no, not just to demonstrate to them what they would learn in the future; and no, not just to tell them that 'the least among you will be the greatest'. No, it was not just about being 'the least of these'. He chose to serve because He KNEW. He got up and got busy. He got up and went about His Father’s business.
Are we going about our Father’s business? Do we get up and go when we hear the call? Do we get up and go when we know what we should be doing? Do we get up and go when we know what we are going to face will be hard or unpleasant? Do we get up and go when we know how much we have left to do before we are done? Do we get up and go, sacrificing of ourselves for the sake of the world? Or do we stay in our own little world where we ask “what’s in it for me?”
What IS in it for me? Everything is what is in it for me. Hearing the words “Well done – good and faithful servant”. That is what must be in for me. Everything!