(first written for the pastor’s column of a local newspaper)
When someone speaks of menial labor, he’s probably talking about the kind of work that hardly anybody wants to do.
The word menial originally meant household, which brings to mind all the chores that get done because, well, somebody has to do them. Who, after all, really wants to wash the dishes after a meal? Isn’t it better to have someone else do that while you turn on your favorite TV program? Who really wants to mow the lawn and rake the leaves?
I once met a man who really did want to. The lawn on the property of the church I served as pastor was a lot bigger than it looked and involved some pretty steep hills. One hot summer Sunday as he was leaving church, this volunteer told me how he couldn’t wait to get started on the lawn that afternoon. “You’re joking, right?” I asked him.
“Not at all!” he said. “I love mowing Jesus’ lawn!”
This man had an insight that we don’t think about often enough. Don’t we all sometimes resent having to do menial work? Don’t we often try to avoid playing the servant’s role for people in our family or in the workplace or in our church?
At the same time, isn’t it true that we would be awfully proud to do the same kind of chores if we were doing them for a king?
Our Lord Jesus says that we have that very opportunity. It is our honor to be the personal attendant of the King of kings every single day!
In Matthew chapter 25, Jesus declares that at the end of the world He will say to those who believed in Him as their Savior, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
He Served Us First!
This means that whatever low-down service we offer to others is something that we really do for God’s own Son, whenever it is done because Jesus served us first. It is Jesus, after all, who set aside His heavenly glory and honor to live a life of poverty and humble service—for you!
It is Jesus who took your dirty laundry—all your sins—upon Himself on the cross.
It is Jesus who was punished in your place, and who rose again from the dead so that you are now set free from all guilt and guaranteed the honor and glory of life forever in heaven.
Do you need any better reason to want to serve Him every day? Do you recognize the opportunities to do so?
When you start to fold the next of an endless line of baskets of laundry, you can say, “Yes, I’m doing this for my family, but most of all I’m doing this for my King, because He served me with His life!”
When you put extra effort into a project for a boss who doesn’t appreciate your work, you can say, “This is really for Jesus, because He served me with salvation!”
When you don’t have time, but you make time to help someone in need (especially when you get nothing in return), you can say, “I already have my return, from Jesus.”
You can be confident that the Lord Jesus gladly receives all these services as a “thank you” for His self-sacrifice that saved you.
Is there, then, such a thing as “menial” labor? If that simply means household chores, of course, we all have those things to do. But for the one who trusts in Christ, there is no such thing as “low-down” service when it’s done for the King.
Whenever you are serving “the least of these” brothers and sisters of Jesus, you’re doing Jesus’ dishes, visiting Him when He’s lonely, and mowing His lawn.
It’s always an honor to serve Him who came to serve us first!