December 20, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Luke 1:38
Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
Today, no matter what you do for your work, no matter whether you are being paid or not, no matter whether you have chosen your work or had it assigned to you, may God give you the grace to imitate Mary. May you say, “I am your servant, Lord. Let my work honor you and contribute to your sovereign purposes today. I offer to you all that I am.”
Today’s devotion is part of the series: Work in Light of Christmas.
In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we considered how God interrupted Zechariah in the context of his work. Today, we encounter another interruption, though the text does not inform us of the context. In Luke 1:26-38, the angel Gabriel appeared to a young woman named Mary, informing her that she would give birth to a son and that he would be the messianic king of Israel (1:26-28). Mary was “greatly troubled” by this announcement (1:29) because she had not engaged in sexual relations with a man. The angel explained that her pregnancy would come, not by ordinary means, but by the power of the Holy Spirit. For this reason, Mary’s son would be called “the Son of God” (1:35).
We can only begin to imagine how Mary must have felt upon hearing this angelic news. On the one hand, she was uniquely favored by God to bear God’s own Son, an extraordinary honor and calling. Surely Mary felt excited, grateful, and humbled. Yet, at the same time, what Mary heard understandably troubled her, since her life would never be the same again and the people in her life, including her fiancé, would probably see her as an immoral woman rather than a woman highly favored by God. When an unmarried Jewish woman in the first century got pregnant, that was a shameful scandal of the highest order, for the woman and her family.
Nevertheless, Mary’s response to the angel was a simple but profound statement of faith and submission: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). What an astounding and exemplary response to God’s unexpected call. The word translated in the NRSV as “servant” (doulos) might also be rendered as “slave.” Mary was saying, in effect: my life is not my own. I belong to God and God can do with me as he pleases. I freely and gladly submit to God’s will.
I find Mary’s response to the angel to be deeply moving. It tells us so much about the kind of woman she was, a person of deep faith and trust in God, someone who was willing to sacrifice everything in order to serve the Lord. We can see why God would have chosen a woman such as Mary to be the mother of the Messiah. And we can see how Jesus, growing up under Mary’s influence, learned so much about complete devotion to God.
Mary did not choose to do the work of bearing and giving birth to the Son of God. This work was assigned to her and she freely accepted it. Today, many of us are in a position to choose the kind of work we do. It hasn’t been assigned to us by an angel of the Lord. Sometimes, however, what we do for our occupation has been determined for us by our family, financial condition, or social station. Yet, whether we have chosen our form of employment or it has been laid upon us, we have the opportunity to choose to imitate Mary in our work. We can offer ourselves to the Lord as a servant, doing our daily work for the Lord’s purposes, glory, and delight. (In fact, in his counsel to slaves and masters in Ephesians 6:5-9, the Apostle Paul commends this very thing.)
So, today, no matter what you do for your work, no matter whether you are being paid or not, no matter whether you have chosen your work or had it assigned to you, may God give you the grace to imitate Mary. May you say, “I am your servant, Lord. Let my work honor you and contribute to your sovereign purposes today. I offer to you all that I am.”
What does Mary’s response to the angel evoke in you?
Have you ever found yourself in a situation somewhat like that of Mary? When? What did you do?
In your daily work, no matter what it is, are you able to offer yourself to the Lord as a servant? What helps you to do this? What makes this difficult?
Do something today to remind you that in your work you are serving the Lord. You might, for example, set an alarm in your phone that goes off in the middle of your workday. When that happens, pause to offer what you are doing to the Lord.
Gracious God, thank you for the moving example of Mary. Her response to the angel encourages and challenges us. May we respond to you with openness and humility. May we offer ourselves to you as your servants, not just in our personal lives, but in everything we do. In particular, may we be your slaves/servants in our work today. Be glorified in us, we pray. Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Advent Reflection: Mary.
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.