August 7, 2010

‘Of Grumbling and Serving From The Heart’: Complementarity and My Family.

As my regular readers will know, I have recently begun a series of blogs on 'Complementarity and Partnership'. 
You can find the first two in the series here and here.

Running alongside this series will be a second series, this time on the topic of 'Complementarity and family life'. 

I've invited several of my godly married friends to write a short piece exploring something of how they apply principles of complementarity within their marriage and family relationship. You may already have read the first of these, - 'Of Apple Pie and Doing Good'  by Debbie Garrett Retief.

Todays piece, 'Of Grumbling and Serving From The Heart', is written by my dear friend Hayley Tubman, who ministers alongside her husband Scott in Cape Town- South Africa.

Thank you so much Hayles!

I was recently asked to give 3 talks from John’s Gospel, at our weekly ladies bible study.
I approached the task of preparation with a quest for theological precision. I wanted to understand what the text was saying; to get to the very heart of John 13, so that I could teach God’s Word truthfully.  
My intentions were good, but I have come to see that so often my good intentions blind me to my own sin.  Let me explain…
As I work with God’s word, I am quick to treat it as a theological exercise, and slow to let it speak to my own heart, to those areas of sin of which I must repent.  I can often see where others in my church or in my family need to change, before I see where I need to change.
And so as I sat down to work on John 13, God worked with me. And what I saw in my own heart was not quite what I’d expected.
John 13 tells the story of Jesus, God’s King, humbly doing the work of a common slave as he washes the filthy feet of His disciples.  He humbly serves them without grumbling or holding back.  He even washed Judas’ feet – the disciple whom Jesus knew would betray Him. 

But me?  Well I moan and grumble every time I have to wash my children’s ‘accidents’ off the bathroom floor.  

I get irritated when ‘my time’ is infringed upon.

I just tidied up this morning! I can’t believe I'm doing it again’ I say at the end of most days.

When others stumble in sin I’m often quick to judge them, or to become frustrated at their apparent lack of maturity – especially if their sin is against me.  

I’m often so unlike the humble servant King of John 13. 
So, as I sat at my desk with my bible and commentaries open before me, I thought back over the weeks that have passed. And sadly, I could recall many instances where being a humble servant in my church, my home, my heart, had eluded me – not because it just passed me by, but because I failed to choose it.
Yup, the crux of the matter is that being servants of each other is always a choice. 
And it is one we should make joyfully and dare I say, willingly, each day. WHY? Because that’s what Jesus did. And He calls us to do the same (Jn 13:12-18). As His servants, we’re called to do what our Master did (Jn 13:16-17).
And here’s what really got me...we’re to serve each other not so that we can tick a box, but we’re to do it from the heart.  Service of each other is not primarily a whole bunch of activities that we do for one another. Rather, it is first and foremost an attitude of the heart. 
If I'm convinced in my heart that Jesus loved me to the point of death, then cleaning the toilet floor should be done with love for my family and Master – not with superficial smiles, but with deep sacrificial love.
As Jesus washed His disciples feet there in the upper room, he was acting out for them a far greater act of service.  He was showing them what His death would achieve – cleansing from sin forever. He, the King, would go to the cross, that place of unspeakable pain and completely give Himself so that my sin could be washed away. 
The Creator dying for the created– willingly without holding back. Completely serving us who had completely failed Him. 
-Ben and Jemma-
If I’m convinced of this truth in my heart, then the housework and the cooking and the giving up of my time for the good of my husband and my children, will be seen as blessed acts of service to my King rather than as menial or annoying tasks. 

And this is how I will experience joy in serving my family.
And if I’m truly convinced in my heart that Jesus died to wash away my sins (even when I was still dead in sin) then I will forgive those who have hurt me and bear with those who have stumbled and fallen in sin.
And so my praying has begun…
I'm praying that my Heavenly Father will forgive me for being a grumbler. I'm praying that He will remove from me the my rights’ mentality that I’ve imbibed from the world. And I’m praying that He will help me to take the facts of the cross of which I am convinced, and to act in the only way I can in the light of the cross: as a genuine servant of my God and His people.
-Hayley and Scott-

I’m also praying that I’ll seek out countless ways to deeply love and joyfully serve my husband. 

I’m praying that I will humbly love and serve my children in all the moments of chaos in my home. 

And I’m praying that I will serve my friends and my church family by bearing with them in love, even when I may feel unloved by them.
In Jn13 Jesus calls His disciples to love one-another.  That was not a new command. What made it ‘new’ was how they were to love.  They were now to love each other just as Jesus had loved them. They were to love to the point of death, if need be. They were to serve, and serve, and keep on serving, humbly, joyfully and deeply from the heart, giving up their own rights and comforts for the good of each other. 
Giving up themselves and their rights for the good of others was not to be a badge of honour, but a required code of conduct for disciples of Jesus. 
Paul echoes these same thoughts in Philippians when he says...
‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit,
but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 
Each of you should look not only to your own interests,
but also to the interests of others.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus,
who being in very nature God, 
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
 but made Himself nothing taking the very nature of a servant, 
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!’ (2:3-9)

I long to have this attitude, and I am praying that God will work this attitude into the fabric of my life more and more as time passes!

-The Tubman Family-

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