Can you see two sets of spoons in the yoghurt tubs? That didn’t happen by accident. Let me tell you how they got there.
On the morning in question, my 4-year-old daughter made an announcement: “I’m going to set the table all by myself!” She wanted to show what a big girl she was.
When my 7-year-old heard me praising his sister for taking such initiative, he whined, “Oh, but I wanted to do it!” Being faster than her due to seniority, he rushed to set the table before she could get there.
Much screeching ensued from both parties, and tears of betrayal tumbled down my preschooler’s cheeks as she attempted to unset the table so that she could do it herself! By this point I was exasperated. Most mornings there’s a tantrum if I ask ONE of them to set the table; now I had two tantrums because they BOTH wanted to do it!
Oh, the irony. One small act of service had become a self-serving, divisive, explosive incident! But I was just the same when I was a kid: any chance to be the first or the best and I’d do it, even if it meant beating my siblings to a job I disliked so that I could get the glory.
Afterwards, I found myself pondering my own attitudes towards acts of service. How often have I wanted to help out at church or elsewhere so that others can think well of me?
Let’s not be like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day who loved to do outwardly spiritual acts that made them look good in front of other people, yet the soil of their hearts was overgrown with weeds of greed and selfishness.
Let’s not draw attention to ourselves when we sacrifice our time or money for the sake of God’s kingdom. Let’s be content to serve others whether or not we get any recognition for it.
Lord, we’re sorry for the times when we get our motives mixed up. We start out wanting to serve you with a pure heart, but sometimes selfishness takes over as we seek recognition and praise for our sacrifices. Please uproot the weed of bitterness from our hearts when we feel unappreciated and overlooked. Help us to love others with the strength you provide, because we know that you see every act of service, whether or not it’s recognised by others. Amen.