I walked up to the freshly wiped counter prepared to place my order. My preparation was really a loose thought as my eyes began to roam the expansive menu. What was originally a coffee in my mind was now a nearly limitless bounty of possibilities. I stood in wavering decisiveness; the barista on the other side of the clean counter stood with a lovely smile on his face. He was gracious and lovely and in no hurry to move me along for not a soul stood in line behind me.
As I finally sat down with my cool drink in hand, I watched as the barista who had served me made his way out from behind the counter to pick up a broom and continue the sweeping he had abandoned when I walked through the door. And the smile he had upon his young face was more refreshing than the drink I held in my hands. I obviously do not know the barista’s heart nor the circumstances of his life, but I do know how his patient demeanour and simple smile made me feel. And I know that not every thing we do as work is easily done with a smile upon our face, but perhaps a smile in itself can make the work more easily done.
In the book of Luke we find the story of two sisters named Mary and Martha. Jesus and His disciples were travelling through a village called Bethany just outside of Jerusalem. They were invited to break bread and share a meal with Martha, Mary, and their brother Lazarus whom Jesus had risen from the dead. Everyone was gathered around the table listening to Jesus when Martha breaks in scolding Jesus believing he did not care that she was doing all the work to prepare and serve the meal while her sister was idle, placing herself at His feet instead of the kitchen.
This particular story is deep, rich, and greatly layered for a whole host of emotions were at play. Jesus rebuked Martha for her fretting proclaiming the truth that Mary’s actions were righteous and it would not be taken away from her. If the choice were ours, I am sure we too would choose to sit at Jesus feet greedily gathering within our souls any scraps of wisdom that shed to the floor. But, in our humanity, let us be honest to admit that we can understand Martha’s plight and the emotional storm that was brewing causing her outburst. I cannot proclaim that I too would not have been flustered and, well… annoyed.
But let us ponder this unspoken truth: how were the disciples gathered around the table made to feel at Martha’s outburst and embarrassment that was sure to follow? Perhaps they felt awkward and uncomfortable and truly not welcomed into Martha’s home for they were causing her work and frustration.
Colossians 3:23-24, Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.
Scripture is clear to tell us that we are to conduct ourselves in our work as though we are doing it for The Lord, not to please people. This is difficult piece of wisdom to follow for work often gets the best of us having the ability to cause great distress and weariness. But let us remember the truth that God commands us to do unto others as we would do unto ourselves. So, let us be conscious of not only who we are working for, but our very actions in our work and how they make others feel. This is one of the greatest tools we have in witnessing to others the power of transformation and presence of Jesus in our lives. We would not take a surly and ungracious attitude to the throne room, so let us not take it to the work room.
And perhaps if Martha had put her own feelings aside for a moment and decided to serve with a smile, the emotional storm would have ceased brewing. Perhaps her smile would have made the work more easily done by stirring the hearts of others gathered at the table to step up, step out, and serve as well.
Father, as we do the work that has been placed in our hands- whether it be in the workplace or in our home- help us to do it well unto you, pleasing to your heart therefore satisfying to our soul. In Jesus name, Amen.