Matthew 23:4-5 – They tie up heavy loads and put on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is for men to see. They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long. (NIV)
When I was a bride, a friend and I both received copper-bottomed cookware as wedding presents. When I visited in her home, the bright copper bottoms hanging above her stove were the focal point of her kitchen. They were still as beautiful as the day she had received them.
Scrubbing my cookware became an obsession with me. I would spend many extra minutes each evening, trying to remove the stains that had been placed there while cooking. No matter how hard I tried, I could not get the shine my friend displayed in her kitchen.
Finally, I shared the agony that was tearing my life apart with a friend. Instead of sympathizing with me, she laughed. "I can't believe you have worried and agonized over this. You know she doesn't use her cookware. It is just for decoration."
Since mine were the only cooking utensils I owned, it never occurred to me that my friend might have another set. How many times in life do we worry and berate ourselves, trying to keep up with others, when their perfections are only for show?
Focusing on outward appearances is fine for decorating a house if we have extra pots, but if we have only one set, we shouldn't be too hard on ourselves if they look slightly used. The Lord calls us to use what we have, not to be collectors of shiny pots for decorations. The use of the gift is far more important in the kingdom than a shiny ornament hanging over the stove.
I've used my cookware for many years now. It doesn't shine anymore, but it is still serviceable. Isn't that what God expects of us?
Prayer: Lord, teach us to use what we have and to take care of it to the best of our ability, using it daily in Your services. Amen.