A special guest was coming, and they had nothing to wear. Literally. Materials were limited. Time was short. Eve pushed the panic button.
An epiphany! “Let’s make aprons.”
Adam gathered a basket of leaves and brought them to Eve. She shook her head. “Oh no, Adam! Those will not do. They’re the wrong shade. I want fig leaves.”
Picture frustrated Adam putting together a one-size-fits-all garment while Eve fretted and revised until she designed an original.
In the Garden of Eden the garment industry was birthed. Before wash-n-wear fabric hit the market, aprons were necessary. Consider how long it took to launder a pioneer woman’s dress—yards of cotton fabric, starched stiff, and ironed with a flat iron heated on a wood stove. Laundering an apron was much easier. A pioneer woman often had four or five aprons for each dress. She wore the apron to cook, do laundry, gather eggs, work in the garden. When guests arrived, she tossed the apron and greeted them in a spotless dress.You can serve without love, but you cannot minister without love. Click To Tweet
“All of you, clothe [apron] yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble’”(I Peter 5:5, NIV).
Between the Garden of Eden and I Peter, the apron seems to have disappeared from the Bible. But a search of God’s Word revealed it in a surprising place—the priest’s closet! It had not been discarded, simply renamed. The ephod was designed like a cobbler’s apron. (For a pattern see Exodus 28.) The priest wore it over his robe when he ministered.
As children of God we are part of a royal priesthood. (See I Peter 2:9.) With His blood, Jesus purchased for us a robe of righteousness. But unless it is covered with the apron of service, it becomes soiled and stained. Remember the Pharisees? On the flip side, just as a fig leaf apron did not cover Adam and Eve’s sin, service will not save us. We must wear both the robe of righteousness and the apron of service.
Ministry is a popular word. It has a professional flair. Everyone wants and should have a ministry. We have music ministries, ladies’ ministries, youth ministries, outreach ministries, and on and on. Service is an old-fashioned, blue-collar word. Who wants to be a servant when you can be the CEO? We put ministers on a platform and servants in the janitor’s closet. We should respect and lift up those in the pulpit ministry, but our concept of ministry is too limited.
“It shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matthew 20:26-27). To minister is to serve. God has not only called preachers to be ministers. Every child of God is called to minister.
Connected to the ephod was the Urim and Thummim, which revealed the will of God. Are you seeking to know the will of God? Put on your apron. As you serve, God’s will for your life will be revealed and fulfilled.
Let’s look at the child Samuel though contemporary eyes. He was abandoned by his mother and father. He was placed in a foster home with perverted older boys and treated much like a servant. Quick! Call Child Protective Services. Alert the media. This child is destined to become an abusive, maladjusted adolescent. His self-esteem is bound to be minus zero. He is sure to become a pervert, an addict, a criminal.
Wait! Before you call the abuse hotline, read the rest of the story. “But Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child, girded with a linen ephod. . . .And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord, and also with men” (I Samuel 2:18, 26).
The child Samuel ministered.
Samuel did not stand before kings and prophesy. He swept the floor. He lit the lamps. He ran errands. He grew into the positions God had for him—a prophet, a priest, and a judge.
He wore an apron. He did not preach from a pulpit. He did not stand before kings and prophesy. He swept the floor. He lit the lamps. He ran errands. He grew into the positions God had for him—a prophet, a priest, and a judge.
Do you want your children to be “in favor both with God and man”? Do you want them to know and obey God’s will? Teach them to serve. Find a job that fits their gifts. Custom design an apron for each child. Our Lord clothed (aproned) Himself with the garb of a servant. He came not to be ministered to, but to minister. (See Philippians 2:5–8.) What motivated Jesus to humble Himself and take on the garb of a servant? Love.
Humility is love in an apron. You can serve without love, but you cannot minister without love. Everyone who serves is not a minister. But everyone who ministers is a servant. Child of God, you are a minister, a priest of the most high God. Protect your robe of righteousness. Put on your apron.
Though officially retired, Barbara Westberg and her husband, Francis, continue to serve “as needed.” Her greatest joy is playing with her three greatgrands while their mother catches her breath.
Resources and Links
Barbara Westberg – Looking for Apostolic tools to help train children in the church and at home? Lean on the trusted voice of this pillar of children’s ministry.