I was looking at this verse thinking, “Oh, poor slaves…called on to serve their little hearts out while in bondage”. Then I kept reading as Paul threw in the “we” language. He was speaking specifically to slaves, but he was including them in a larger discussion without social distinction. These verses are filled with the expectations of all believers. WE, all of us, slaves and free, are meant to live our lives of service with singleness of heart. Singleness of heart…as in no duplicity. For those of us who are still wondering, it is the mental eye-roll…I call it the “brain-roll”. It is much easier to do in public than the normal eye-roll, less conspicuous when you are in the middle of a conversation. No one might see it, but it is very much alive inside of us.
The double heart serves the church and home, perhaps even workplace, continually exhausted and at the end of their wits; always wondering how the next day will be possible. You know the type, the person who stands in front of you at work or church, constantly complaining about what they have to do, and how there is never enough time, as if their list is cosmically more important than anyone else’s in the course of history.
They are usually the ones from whom we are backing away slowly, and waiting for a breath so that we can run to the bathroom…anywhere just to be out of their toxic reach. Toxicity doesn’t have to be that obvious, though. There are many of us who smile to the many faces we encounter and feel like we are dying inside, as people pour their hearts out to us. We have nothing left to give them.
I have been that person. I have flown by the seat of my pants in ministry. I have been toxic and duplicitous. I wondered why I always felt so lonely at those times. The truth is I did not even want to be alone with me. There was no peace. I scheduled a ton of activities (assumption that more activities = more Jesus, because I gave Him more opportunities to show up) and little by little the activities, and I, were less effective…and I was exhausted. Even now, after church sometimes I will get in the car and start to “talk”, but really I am “venting”. My husband is saintly in these moments but I know that he can’t help doing a brain-roll at his ridiculous wife.
The clincher, Paul does not stop at singleness of heart…the expectation is enthusiasm. That is right, the word of God says, “with enthusiasm”. What does that mean? It means that if we abide in Christ, He will give us singleness of heart and enthusiasm. Isn’t that the whipped cream and cherry on top of our sundae? Let’s make that a barrel of fudge? You and I both know that in this life, on this earth, we battle the forces that want to rob of us of an enthusiastic spiritual life every day. Christ wants this for us. Enthusiasm.
Let me tell you why I, naively is what you are thinking, write that this is possible…because I believe that His word is true, I believe that it is relevant to me every day. Paul also says that whatever good we do, we will receive the same AGAIN, from the Lord. Whatever true, authentic experience that I have in this world, with the enthusiasm that he grants me to do his work, will be replenished so that I can just keep doing his work with singleness of heart and enthusiasm. I can be His hands and feet because He will give me that ability. The trick: stop trying to do it myself.
Lord, make us your hands and feet with singleness of heart and enthusiasm. We desire this relationship with you and the world. Remove toxicity and duplicity from our hearts and send your Spirit to recreate us.