Recently we tried a restaurant that re-opened under new management. Going in, we were seated in a section that required ascending tiled steps that were not only slick, but also had no railing. While waiting for our server, we noticed that this room appeared to be a cut-through for numerous restaurant employees.
After taking our order and carefully navigating the steps, our server returned carrying a tray of four full tumblers. As she approached our table, she spotted a puddle on the steps. Simultaneously, an elderly couple entered the room escorted by the hostess. Sensing impending catastrophe, the server, tray-in-hand, pointed her head towards the hazard, and kindly asked a passing cook to wipe up the water using the towel on his shoulder.
Thinking this was a "no-brainer," I fully expected the young man to offer an affirmative team-player response of "whatever it takes." Instead, he boasted: "That is not my job. Get the busboy to do it. I didn't come here to mop floors, I came here to cook."
Reflecting on that incident, the Holy Spirit gently reminded me that I sometimes act the same way: when opportunity to serve is overridden by my pride, and when opportunity for compassion is overridden by my agenda.
The CEB translation of Proverbs 14:4 reads: "When there are no oxen, the stall is clean, but when there is a strong bull, there is abundant produce." The pursuit of a great harvest is not a sanitary process. Oxen need to be fed, and then they digest that food, and then... well, you know. The reality is that the joy of the harvest far outweighs the inconvenience of the process.
Pursuing spiritual harvest is equally unsanitary. Life's circumstances are often messy and complicated. But those who are in the midst of crises need those around them to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
Recall, when the High Priest Joshua stood before the angel of the Lord in filthy garments. The angel spoke to those around Joshua, "take off his filthy clothes." It was those around Joshua who dressed him in royal garments (Zechariah 3:3-5). When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and he came out of the tomb with his feet bound, hands tied, and face covered with a cloth, Jesus spoke to those around him: "untie him and let him go" (John 11:38-44). It was those around the paralyzed man who found no other way to lay him before Jesus, except by carrying him "up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus."
Perhaps there is someone around you weighed down by filthy garments of sin, shame, or disgrace. Or maybe there is someone around you who is bound by the grave clothes of their past. Is there someone around you who is emotionally or spiritually paralyzed by life circumstances? Maybe the Holy Spirit has pointed them out to you so that you would be one of those around them who would take the risk, step out, and minister to them. The harvest will be worth it!