One of the things that the COVID-19 pandemic has meant is that most everyone is working in a new way. Many have had to start working from home. Those who still go in to work have had to change their work environment.
Working from home was on the increase before the pandemic. In some cases it has made people more productive. In other cases it has disrupted the work/family balance.
Zoom, with its capability of having online, somewhat face-to-face meetings, has seen a huge increase in usage – and complaints.
Those who still go in to work have had to learn how to protect themselves in all their interactions with co-workers and customers. Have you seen all the Plexiglas that has suddenly appeared?
If we didn’t have the work from home options the employment situation would be much worse.
In Romans, chapter seven, Paul talks about a new way of serving, a new way of working:
“But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” (Romans 7:6, ESV)
This new way of serving refers to what we do when things go wrong. When things are going right we serve, we get rewarded. We feel good. God is pleased. In verse ten of this chapter Paul calls the law the commandment that promises life. And the commandment does promise life – for those who are perfect.
But no one is able ever to be perfect. Sin is too powerful.
And when we serve under the law when we do wrong there is punishment. Always. No exceptions. No negotiations.
This leads to wrath. How can we love a God who is constantly out to punish us? Martin Luther confessed that, before he found Christ, when he was trying to serve God the old way, he actually hated God.
Or it leads to denial: “I’m just not going to listen anymore. I’ll never be good enough so I’m not even going to try.”
And as Paul makes it very clear in Romans 7, verse 12, the problem is not with the law. The law is good: “So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.”
There has never been nor will there ever be a better set of laws than the Ten Commandments, God’s holy, perfect law. No, when we sin it is never because there is something wrong with God’s law.
So that’s the old way of serving; follow the law perfectly and if you don’t, punishment, wrath and condemnation.
Under grace, when we do wrong we flee to Christ for forgiveness and for fulfillment. Christ has fulfilled the law completely.
In verse 4 of Romans 7 Paul points out that this is a complete break. We can never go back to serving in the old way: “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.”
And serving under Christ means never letting him out of our sight.
A friend once sent a letter to Vincent Van Gogh when the artist was going through a rough time. He enclosed in his letter to Van Gogh an etching done by another famous artist, Rembrandt. The etching was a depiction of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, one of Jesus’ greatest miracles.
As with most of the depictions of this miracle, the focus of the work is on Lazarus coming out of that tomb. The letter and the gift of the etching really helped Van Gogh and he proceeded to create his own masterpiece depiction of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.
As someone observed, while it is tempting to put the focus on Lazarus in this story, the real focus should be on Jesus. He is the one who raised this man from the dead. It was all Jesus’ doing so he should get all the credit.
The same is true as we serve in the new way. Jesus gets all the credit. Like Lazarus we died to the old way of serving and are alive to a whole new way of serving and it’s all through Christ.
Trying to serve in the new way and never seeking out Christ would be like if Lazarus was raised from the dead and then proceeded to walk right past Jesus and never see him again. That just would not be right.
Serving in this new way transforms the way we serve.
The old way of serving is always into bigger and bigger things. I have to do great works for God to make up for my many sins and shortcomings. Or it is the attitude of “What have you done for me lately?”
And as Jesus points out in Matthew 10, when we serve God in the new way even the smallest works are rewarded:
Matthew 10:41–42 “The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.  And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” (ESV)
“It’s a small thing, but people who consistently express gratitude develop a higher level of awareness for all the things in their lives they have to be grateful for.” ~Richie Norton
“The Lord likes small things best, especially those done with love.” ~Mother Teresa
“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master!” Matthew 25:21
The reason even the smallest works done in Christ are rewarded are because they are literally Christ’s work not ours. He is the one motivating and directing us. We are just the hands and the feet. So there will be a reward because it is really Christ doing the work.
And remember not serving is not an option. We are always serving someone.
There will no doubt be some permanent changes in the way people work going forward. When we serve God in Christ it is a permanent change where even the smallest works are rewarded.
Click here to watch a video based on this post.