The greatest among you must be a servant. (Matthew 23:11 NLT)
Our Lord’s idea of the greatest is much different than ours. Come with me and imagine what might have happened in heaven.
There once was a man named Wilbur. He was a member of a large church, and although many knew him by sight, very few even knew his name. He was quiet and polite, and if you didn’t speak to him first, he would hesitate to talk to you. He was often seen around the Church doing tasks like putting up and taking down tables and chairs for social events.
Early Sunday morning, he would stop by the store to pick up pastries, arrive at the Church, and brew the coffee for the social time before the morning service. He made sure the Pastor always had water at the pulpit for the sermon. He did everything behind the scenes to make Church happen without any fanfare. Occasionally, someone would note his service, and he would seem a little embarrassed.
He was the glue that held things together. When glue is serving its purpose, you never see it. He never taught a Sunday school class, and heaven forbid that he would ever preach a sermon, yet the Church would not function properly without him.
He served the Church his whole life, and no one could ever remember him missing a service. As time passed, he grew old and could no longer attend Church. He would get some visitors, but not many. Finally, he passed away and went to his eternal reward. There were many empty seats at his funeral service.
When he arrived at heaven’s door, he saw a line of people waiting to be greeted by the Lord Jesus. The line consisted of pastors, teachers, evangelists, and other prominent Christian leaders. He started to get to the end of the line when he noticed Jesus motioning to him to come to the front of the line. He looked behind him, thinking he must be gesturing to someone else, but no, there was no one following him.
Hesitantly, he walks to the head of the line. As he passed the people in the line, he felt a need to apologize. Just as he was to be greeted by Jesus, someone he walked past shouted, why is he at the front of the line? Another said this man has never even preached a sermon. All the others in the line nodded in agreement.
Jesus looked at the people in the line and did not seem surprised at their reactions. He said, yes, this man has never preached a sermon like all of you have. I appreciate what you have done for me, yet, at least in part, you did it because of the affirmation and acceptance you got from the people to whom you preached. My servant here did all he did just because he loved me. Jesus stretched out his hand and looked into Wilbur’s eyes and said, come in, my servant friend; well done.
No, I have no evidence this ever happened, but I think it could have.
I am writing to all God’s servants like Wilbur in every Church or Christian ministry on God’s good earth. Like Wilbur, you have done the lion’s share of the work and gotten very little credit. Although man does not often notice, God sees every act of selfless service, and he never, ever forgets.
Ultimately, it is not vital what man thinks, but only what God thinks about you. You are the greatest in the Kingdom.
The moral to this story is not that God loves unseen servants more than seen ones. It is not about what we do, but why we do what we do.
The image is used with permission by Microsoft.