Serving Peaches

Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mk.10:41-45).

A certain man was hired by another man to do odd jobs around the home. He worked for him a number of times for a fair amount of pay. It came about that the last time he worked for the man, that he told him after the job was completed not to worry about paying him as he said, "This one's on me." The astonished employer looked back to a woman who was with him. The woman seemed shocked as well, and just stood still for a moment then uttered, "That's a switch," in an almost disbelieving fashion. The employer thought for a moment then told the man to follow him. He led him into the garage and to several large baskets of fresh peaches. The employer looked to the other man and asked him to take one of the baskets of his choice. But the peaches were not offered as payment--but instead, they were a token of gratitude--a gift for the giver.
The power of sacrificial service and selfless giving is a power that moves the heart, and baffles the mind. It is seldom that we consider that someone would do anything without expecting something in return. And when we experience such giving, we might often become suspicious or skeptical, wondering what strings are attached to the gift, and what are the true intentions of the giver.
It would seem that our nation, society and even our churches are full of people who are more accustomed to serving self, than serving others. True and sacrificial giving are so foreign to us that when we see the genuine article, it astonishes us. I once knew of a situation where a church wanted to hire someone to cook Wednesday night supper. They could not understand it when a lady in the church stepped forward and offered to do it for free--as a ministry. They insisted on paying her, yet she insisted more greatly because she wanted it to be her service, not her job.
What does it mean to minister? The dictionary says that ministry is "the act of service." When we consider serving one another in Christ, do we generally attach strings, or paychecks? We might consider that true ministry is a gift, and "paid ministry" as a contradiction of terms. For those who truly minister are focused on meeting the needs of another--aren't they? They are not expecting anything in return--are they? As a minister the person does a service requiring no compensation, his or her ministry is a gift--a love offering, if you will. The response to the gift is "peaches." That is to say that as the minister gives, it is also given unto him. The service he does for others reciprocates a service to himself. Not that he desires to be served, but that the "peaches" he receives from whom he serves is a product of his ministry sown in love.
It is sad to say what has become of the word ministry today. There are "paid" ministers who would not "minister" without the pay. There are many who are called to serve who will not serve to meet the needs of a church who cannot guarantee they will be able to meet his needs. There are churches and fellowships who will not lend a van to another church, freely offer the use of their recreation center to a local Big Brothers group, or perform simple wedding ceremonies without first defining the terms of payment for "services" rendered.
With all the various examples of "ministry" and "service," perhaps it would be good of Webster to redefine the words--it would seem that we certainly have.


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