One of my favorite stories of all time was written by Mark Twain in his classic, “Tom Sawyer.” Aunt Polly told Tom Sawyer that he had to whitewash the fence–a job he detested. But, Tom was ingenious. When Ben Rogers came up in his bike, heading off to the swimming hole, Tom ignored him, paying attention to his job on the fence. Ben started to tease him about going swimming, when he was stuck whitewashing the fence. But, Tom said that the work suited him quite well. Ben said, “Oh come, now, you don’t mean to let on that you like it?” Tom replied, “Like it? Well, I don’t see why I oughtn’t to like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence very day?”
With that change of perspective, Ben was intrigued with the job and asked Tom if he could do a bit of whitewashing. But, Tom refused to let him help, ““No – no – I reckon it wouldn’t hardly do, Ben. You see, Aunt Polly’s awful particular about this fence – right here on the street, you know – but if it was the back fence I wouldn’t mind and she wouldn’t. Yes, she’s awful particular about this fence; it’s got to be done very careful; I reckon there ain’t one boy in a thousand, maybe two thousand, that can do it the way it’s got to be done.”
After a bit more pleading, Ben finally offered Tom his apple to paint the fence. Tom obliged and let Ben whitewash the fence, as he enjoyed Ben’s apple. Soon, several more of Tom’s friends came by and gave Tom their trinkets for the opportunity to whitewash the fence. Soon, he had so many helpers that “If he hadn’t run out of whitewash he would have bankrupted every boy in the village.” (You can read the whole account here).
We have a need in our church–a single mother needs help staining her fence. Some men in the church have a heart to help her with her need. We made the opportunity known, and they did it, without any trickery. Such ought to be our service to Christ. “We do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5).