Exodus 36-38:Backtracking with Excellence

Okay, today I am backtracking.  I just THOUGHT I was finished with the book of Exodus…but yesterday I accidentally skipped over these chapters and went on to the last two.  I think perhaps my mind was a little snow-logged from the record-breaking snowfall we had yesterday.

My mother is a gifted artist.  She has the natural ability to sketch anything she sees into an incredible likeness.  My niece is also a gifted artist — she is an excellent photographer and designer.  Have you ever known anyone with a true God-given talent?

It’s okay to write “God-given,” because the Lord does hand out talents and skills just as effortlessly as he handed out manna so long ago.  When he needed the Tabernacle built to his specifications, he gave special knowledge to Bezalel, Oholiab and others so they could complete the task with excellence.  He not only gave them wisdom, but he also gave them the ability to perform the work.  One of the purposes of these three chapters is to prove that these men did indeed create the items for the Tabernacle exactly as the Lord commanded, with excellence.

God has plans for each of his children.  He has wired us for specific tasks in His kingdom.  Your gifts are not exactly like my gifts.  Paul illustrated this fact with his metaphor of the church to the human body in 1 Corinthians 12:

4Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

So…what kind of body part am I for the Lord?  My first guess is that I am a writer for His glory.  I am an organizer and an educator.  The Lord did indeed give me special skills in these areas — they certainly didn’t come to me from out of thin air!  My past teachers contributed, but natural ability comes from the Lord.  (There is a reason I am not in Vancouver participating in the Olympics tonight!)  What kind of “body part” are you?

The wisdom I glean from these chapters in Exodus is that working for excellence and producing excellent results matters to God, and therefore it ought to matter to me.  Our family talks about excellence every now and then — my husband and I want to model a strong work ethic to our daughter.  From a lab tech who did not care that she was drawing blood improperly all the way to the waiter who anticipates our needs and meets them with a smile, we find examples in daily life of those who work at what they do with excellence, and those who only “half-do” their jobs.  This is a good reminder to me that God is pleased when all my work (not just the work I find pleasant) is done with excellence, and it brings to me one of my favorite verses:

23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23

So whether it is laundry or cooking for my family, worshipping, praying, writing this blog, teaching my daughter, shopping for groceries, making the bed, or building snowmen…God is pleased when I do it with all my heart, for HIM.  There were days as a public school teacher when I felt hugely under-appreciated by parents and students…and that’s okay!  I wasn’t supposed to be doing it for them, anyway, but for the Lord.

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