One day, my junior high self came up with a great plan: I would take a day to provide free house cleaning for a family in my church.
Impressed by my evident servant’s heart, I approached Dad and Mom with the idea.
“Sure,” my dad said, “but how about you help your mom clean our house first?”
For some very odd reason, helping my mom clean our house didn’t sound like as great of a plan as helping someone else with their space.
Although I originally thought my idea was motivated by some big-hearted attempt to serve and love, my dad helped me realize that my resistance to serve those closest to me indicated a motivation other than love. In my case, I thought this family would be impressed by my thoughtfulness and generosity. I wanted them to think well of me – to know that I was a humble servant, quite possibly the humblest servant that ever existed. In reality, after my dad’s proposal, I’m fairly certain I never again expressed interest in gratuitous house cleaning.
Sometimes it’s easiest to serve those far from us. Sometimes we can be so concerned about another’s problem while neglecting the problems God has put right under our noses. Sometimes it’s more fulfilling to make a meal for someone else than to bless your husband with a sweet note. To speak a kind word to a stranger rather than breathing life into our children. To advocate for those in another part of the world while ignoring the hurting surrounding us. In our country, state, city, home.
It’s not that you should only serve those who are in your home and then stop. But you should start there.
If you want to advocate for and love others but are resistant to the idea of serving those in your own home + sphere of influence, perhaps you should evaluate your motive. Perhaps you should ask yourself if you’re truly motivated by love. If a person is truly motivated by love, they will serve others…no matter who it is or who is watching.
If I only want to serve when there’s an audience, I’m not all about service. I’m all about attention.
If I’m more concerned with giving because someone will think better of me, I’m not truly interested in generosity, but improving my reputation.
If I heavily advocate for others via social media, but ignore the needs of those I know in real life, I’m not a proponent of compassion. I’m an advocate for my own agenda.
In the case of my example, if my base motivation had been love, I would have happily taken my Dad’s suggestion to help Mom clean the house. As it was, I couldn’t figure out why he wouldn’t let me serve. It took me a while to understand that he wasn’t discouraging love and service, but actually encouraging true love. Not just for those outside my home, but for the ones inside as well.
Because true love starts with those who are closest to us.
Who are you loving today?
If a person is truly motivated by love, they will serve others…
no matter who it is or who’s watching.
Related // Love is Dirty
// sign up for email updates here! //