I write this following a week of significant ministry. Now you may be expecting me to go on to talk about the number of visits that I have made both in homes and in hospitals, the amount of people that I counseled, the Bible studies I taught, and the sermons I preached. While all of those certainly are significant ministry tasks, last week I actually did none of them. Instead, my week consisted of helping my wife with things around the house as she recovered from delivery such as doing the dishes and the laundry, feeding my newborn son, changing his diapers, and calming him when fussy.
We often think significant ministry is only that which is done in an official capacity for the church. That if we are not serving on a specific board or committee, being a deacon, teaching a Sunday School class, delivering a sermon, or traveling overseas for missionary work, then we are not actually doing significant ministry. But that is far from the truth. For the Christian, everything that he or she does ought to be viewed as significant ministry for the kingdom of God (including but not limited to the things in that list). Even ordinary mundane tasks such as changing diapers or washing the dishes. This is because everything that the Christian does should no longer be for himself and his own gain but for the glory of God and our neighbor’s good. As Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” and in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Such an attitude transforms the ordinary tasks of everyday life into extraordinary ministry opportunities by which to bring glory to God as we seek to do them in excellence to please and honor Him. It changes our very perspective. These are not simply things that have to be done and so I need to hurry up and do them but ways that I can serve the One who loves me so much that He gave His very life for me. He is pleased when I do every ordinary thing in gratitude to Him and in accordance with His Word. And that makes the smallest deed done on this earth significant.
In a sense, nothing really should be seen as “secular” for the Christian in his or her life but “sacred” since all of life is viewed as being set apart for and devoted to God. (That’s the meaning of “sacred” by the way. Something being set apart for and devoted to God.) You may think that you work at a “secular” job but in essence it is a “sacred” job for you because you realize that your ultimate boss is not the one you report to on Monday morning but the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who will reward us with a far greater treasure than any financial reimbursement, the inheritance of heaven itself (Colossians 3:23-24). You will want to do a good job in light of such a truth. Ordinary tasks in marriage such as washing the dishes and doing the laundry become sacred tasks when we keep in mind that they are ways of serving our spouse and in so doing painting the picture of the greater gospel relationship that the marriage union points to, that of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33). With such small tasks, we also can demonstrate the great love which Christ has shown us in giving fully of Himself for our benefit. These little everyday things can be big ways to love our husbands and wives like Jesus as we give of ourselves for their benefit. As we take up our cross and deny ourselves for their sake. Parenting transforms into a sacred task with the mindset that our goal as parents is so much more than preparing our children to be a polite respectful outstanding citizen or to find a good mate but ultimately to know the Lord Jesus Christ and to live for Him. That each day provides so many opportunities to both teach and present the gospel to them (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). What a holy privilege to prepare these little ones for eternity! Brother Lawrence was right in a sense that in most cases, “Sanctification does not involve changing what we do, but in doing our normal activities for God’s sake.”
Martin Luther and the reformers really emphasized this, that even the seemingly most mundane task, done in faith for Christ and the glory of God is significant in God's eyes. Here is him talking about it in his characteristic way: "Now observe that when that clever harlot, our natural reason . . . , takes a look at married life, she turns up her nose and says, ‘Alas, must I rock the baby, wash its diapers, make its bed, smell its stench, stay up nights with it, take care of it when it cries, heal its rashes and sores and on top of that care for my wife, provide for her, labor at my trade, take care of this and take care of that, do this and do that, endure this and endure that, and whatever else of bitterness and drudgery married life involves?’
"What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels. It says, O God, because I am certain that thou hast created me as a man and hast from my body begotten this child, I also know for a certainty that it meets with thy perfect pleasure. I confess to thee that I am not worthy to rock the little babe or wash its diapers, or to be entrusted with the care of the child and its mother. How is it that I, without any merit, have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving thy creature and thy most precious will? O how gladly will I do so, though the duties should be even more insignificant and despised. Neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labor, will distress or dissuade me, for I am certain that it is thus pleasing in thy sight. God, with all his angels and creatures is smiling—not because the father is washing diapers, but because he is doing so in Christian faith.”
So as you go about your day today facing some of those ordinary mundane tasks, be sure to give it your best effort because you are not doing them for yourself but for your Lord. Don’t stick up your nose at them thinking that your time could better be spent doing something greater. Seek to do such ordinary chores in gratitude to God for all that He has done for you in Christ and to bring Him glory and praise. Well, I have a little baby who needs to be fed. Another significant ministry task for God’s glory!
Love in Christ,