The Service of the Saintly
. . . Anna . . . never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. (Luke 2:36-37)
Many years ago, a woman who sewed clothing for a living also took care of a little boy each day. As she sewed she shared her faith with this small boy, sowing seeds by her words and deeds that she prayed would bear fruit one day. The actions of this humble woman did indeed bear fruit, for the young boy she looked after was Billy Sunday who grew up to become one of America’s greatest revival preachers.
In 1924, Sunday preached in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a committee of Christian businessmen was formed to continue evangelizing after his crusade. Ten years later, that committee brought evangelist Mordecai Ham to Charlotte for another crusade. Among those giving their hearts to Christ at that meeting was a young man named Billy Graham—and the rest is history.
The woman who earned a humble living by sewing others’ clothes and caring for a young boy didn’t do so because she anticipated any direct or indirect results from her efforts. She did it to be faithful and take advantage of whatever opportunity God put before her.
That is a better definition of “saintly” living than what we sometimes hear. Often “the saints” are those who live humbly and sacrificially, whose good deeds are known by many, or have sponsored large acts of charity. In reality, however, saintly service is far more akin to what is done behind the scenes than in front of them. Jesus set the ultimate example for saintly service when he wrapped a towel around his waist, took a bowl of water, and washed the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-5). This was the job of a servant, not a savior, the disciples thought. They had forgotten that this Savior came not to be served, but to serve (Mark 10:45). Jesus concluded by telling the disciples that just as He had served them, they were to serve each other.
There are an infinite number of ways to fulfill Jesus’ instructions to serve one another. But underlying all our service must be the reality that motivated Jesus: a heart of love. Service motivated by love for others instead of love for self is the chief characteristic of saintly service. It’s not important that the world sees our service when we know that God does.
Heavenly Father, I want to be faithful in the moment. Not because of what might come from it, but because it is the right thing for me to do; for a servant to be faithful to her Master. Grant me a heart of grace. Amen.
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