Friday, May 12, 2017

Little {isn’t always} much.

Talking about motherhood and the significance of that responsibility was easier to do before I became a mother. The outside perspective is fresh and full of motivation. There’s no morning sickness or post-partum recovery or sleep deprivation or hormonal roller coasters involved. Those things can be anticipated, but what I didn’t expect was how militant those things can be in blotting out your sense of fulfillment.

It’s like that with anything, really. Any work has its trials that you can’t fully expect, and one day you find yourself loathing the ordinary tasks you’re given just because they’re ordinary. No matter what you do for a living, life has a way of feeling boring and monotonous. We quickly become dissatisfied with work we thought we’d always enjoy.

This has been a struggle for me some days, and I’m grateful for the resources available to point my thinking back in the right direction. Reminders of the importance of the mundane things, that they are worth while. Reminders that my work is of value to God and that “little is much when God is in it”.
But now here’s my question: does this mean that if I simply stay home with my kids and keep them alive, that is automatically of eternal worth?

I’m going to propose an unpopular answer…
What if it’s not?

Little isn’t always much.
A Christian can choose to do a simple task, but that doesn’t mean the task is automatically valuable to God. There is such a thing as wood, hay, and stubble in the outcome of our lives.

I want to clarify right now that I’m not trying to debunk the concept that “little is much when God is in it”. That phrase is true and beautiful to us, often because even the most important work here on earth can seems so lackluster and boring. I’m not saying that any task that’s small must be worthless to God. But does God value the work because it is small? Or does He value it for another reason.

In my head right now I picture my “boring” days. Do I console myself simply with the fact that being a mom, in and of itself, is enough to satisfy my calling as a Christian? As I start my morning and do the things and make the meals and clean the kids- just because that’s what moms have to do- am I automatically glorifying God? If that were the case, I can name several non-Christian moms who glorify God better than me!

The conclusion must be reached:
It matters how you mother.
(It matters how you do any work God gives.)

By that I mean that glorifying God in your role takes more than just having the role. It takes spiritual vitality and discipline. It doesn’t start with how to properly fold towels or reading more books to your kids. It starts with your purpose and seeing motherhood (or whatever work you do) as a channel to glorify God.

So how then do I glorify God in my small work?

1. Be energized by gratefulness.
“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Col. 3:17)
Isn’t that basic? In order to glorify God, you actually need to… glorify God. Thank Him in the little things. We will never run out of ways He’s showing grace and power, even just in our own quiet lives.

2. Take it seriously.
Do it as for the Lord and do it well. It means being present, not passive. Looking for ways to improve. For me as a mother, it means making good use of my day through planning, efficiency, and creativity.
“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,
knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.
It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” (Col. 3:23-24)

3. Engage your heart in the work and do it with vitality.
Notice how “do your work heartily” is a command? Obedience isn’t just doing the work. Obedience is being engaged in the work because it was God who gave it to us. Get your heart involved, not for the work’s sake, or even the accomplishment’s sake; do it for your Master’s sake.

That really is the main point here. Your heart matters. Let’s not console ourselves that we’re glorifying God based only on what we’re doing. Let’s strive to make the little things great because we’re doing it for Him and we’re using it as a means to honor His name and notice His goodness.

I’m writing this post for me. Getting down to the truth of things has revealed why I have struggled to find fulfillment in motherhood. It’s never the work alone that we were made to find fulfillment in. We weren’t made to find fulfillment just in being married or being a mother or a provider or an author or any other role. It isn’t the work alone that glorifies God and makes little into much. It’s not even the fact that a Christian is doing it that makes our work significant. Instead, “little is much when God is in it.” He is our Portion and Focus.

Does the place you’re called to labor
Seem too small and little known?
It is great if God is in it,
And He’ll not forget His own.
Little is much when God is in it!
Labor not for wealth or fame.
There’s a crown—and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus’ Name.
Kittie L. Suffield

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Audacity

 Godliness matters.

The apostle Paul wrote to Titus on the conduct of Christians. Older men, older women, younger men, and younger women... whether slave or free. If a person was a Christian, there was a standard for them to live by, and at the end of chapter 2, Paul told us why.

For the  grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,  
instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires 
and to live  sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,  
looking for the blessed hope and the appearing
 of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,  
who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, 
and to  purify for Himself a people for His own possession,  zealous for good deeds.  
These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. 
Let no one disregard you.
Titus 2:11-15

Notice what starts off this (very thorough) run-on sentence about denying sin and embracing righteousness: "the grace of God". We are tempted to think His grace is present in our lives just to make things easier on us, but here it is grace that instructs us to reject our natural desires and pursue godliness. It's not easy, but it's the love of God at work. 

Godliness is in our best interest. It's a result and benefit of salvation. It's an essential part of how God redeems. He saves from sin, and He purifies us to be His own. 
Godliness is the greatest evidence that we are God's.

And yet somehow we get timid on the topic of godliness. We blush thinking of encouraging someone in a spiritual way and avoid saying important things for fear people would think us too religious. I think we forget the advantage that godliness really is... we forget that it really doesn't do us well to live otherwise... we forget the glory of purity that God intended for His people. 
We forget mostly that we're His people at all.

Paul described the result of God's grace, redemption, and purification.
Zealous for good deeds

God saved us to be godly, but godliness is nothing if it just amounts to arrogant piety. He saved us so that, in our godliness, we would be fruitful. He intended the church to be a people who would be about His work... even zealous about His work. If this was one of the main purposes of salvation, why wouldn't we be bold in carrying it out? Why do we so often forget the whole reason we're here? Why are we so shy about encouraging others in godliness as well?

What Paul wrote to Titus is something we all need to grasp. If godliness is so important to God and so fundamental to our purpose, let us be bold in living it. And as bold as we are in living it, let us be bold in driving other Christians to godliness as well. 

It takes a kind of audacity. The audacity to deny the world of it's influence and push ourselves out of our comfort zones. Churches should be full of Christians who will "spur each other on to love and good deeds" (Heb. 10:24) Christians who will remind each other faithfully of what God redeemed us for. Those who will advise, encourage, warn, and rebuke. 

Righteous living is one of the clearest goals of the Christian life. We shouldn't be ashamed to live it or encourage it, especially in the church. Let it be a theme in what we say, but let us say it graciously. Because godliness isn't a punishment, it's a gift and a privilege. 

Build up godliness, and don't despise it. Don't question the necessity of what God intended us for all along. To belittle godliness is to belittle Him. So honor Him. Speak the truth in love. (Eph. 4:15)

Fill your days and your conversations with what is sensible, righteous, and godly. Have the audacity to live and proclaim your kingdom work. Don't be ashamed; it's the only work that will last.