Sometimes when I tell my kids to do a chore, they do the whole chore.
Other times, they do half of it.
“Sweetheart, would you please feed the dog?” I directed this question/command at my 12-year old daughter while I flipped French toast for breakfast.
“Sure,” she said, and I heard the sound of kibble tumbling into our puppy’s bowl.
Five minutes later, after the dog had licked his dish clean, I glanced down at the doggie mat where I expected to see two bowls—one for food and one for water. Instead I saw four.
Two fresh and two left over from yesterday—empty, dirty and forgotten.
“You fed the dog?”
“Yeah. Just like you told me to.”
“Buuuut… why are his old dishes still on the floor? You do know that part of feeding the dog involves putting yesterday’s bowls in the dishwasher, right?”
“Oh, yeah. Sorry, I was lazy. But I still fed the dog!!”
This is the part where I could’ve kept my mouth shut and let a little thing go, but… was it a little thing? Or was it a sign of a bigger thing?
I went full bore for the teachable moment.
“Sweetheart,” I said, “You did feed the dog, but you didn’t actually complete the chore. You did it halfway. And I’m not so worried about the fact that there are four bowls on the floor. I’m more worried about your attitude toward the chore.”
And that’s when I posed this stinger:
“Do you have a heart that wants to serve completely, or are you just trying to do the minimum to get by?”
It’s a fair question—until we flip it back onto ourselves.
As a mother and a wife and a blessed child of God, do I desire to serve with my whole heart? Or am I just trying to skate by?
When it’s time to make dinner—again. Is my heart eager to prepare a healthy meal, or am I secretly relieved when my husband suggests throwing in a frozen pizza?
When my house gets messy. Do I praise God for a warm home filled with people I love, cupboards full of food, modern conveniences, and TV on demand? Or do I grumble about having to pick up after everyone—then skip mopping the corners for the third week in a row? What’s my attitude toward serving then?
And when my children are exhausted and moody and require my attention at an hour beyond my own bedtime, do I gently set aside my frustrations and give them my unconditional love? Or do I address their needs through shortcuts like scolding and snappish answers?
I wish I could say I’m always 100 percent willing and eager to serve. But I’m not. And neither are you, right? Because we’re all imperfect people. God has endless grace for our flaws and mistakes; that will always be true.
Are we hiding behind our flawed humanity as an excuse? Or are we giving it over to the Lord and asking Him to fuel us with a greater desire to love and serve the way He loves and serves us?
This Christian life is about sanctification, not apathy. It’s about growing closer to Jesus and being more like Him. And He didn’t do ANYTHING half-heartedly. His obedience was pure, impassioned, and complete.
You know what that means?
He would’ve put the dirty dog bowls in the dishwasher.
And we should, too.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. (Galatians 5:13)
As I type this post, I’m reminded of one of my very most favorite songs, So Will I. Take a few minutes to click over and listen. Together let’s remind each other whom and why we serve. Then let’s do it—with a heart full to the brim with God’s character and love.
What to Read Next: Confessions of a Reluctant Helpmeet