There once was a young man named Arsene who lived in Paris, France. Arsene worked as a grocer, but he absolutely hated his job because he felt like he was meant for bigger things. In his mind, circumstances created by a cruel world had robbed him of his true destiny and had conspired to keep him in his lowly place.
Finally there came a time when Arsene could stand his life no longer and he committed suicide by hanging. He left a note in which he railed against his lot in life and asked his parents to place a simple tombstone over his grave. The inscription on the tombstone was to read: “Born to be a man; died a grocer.”
The hard, cold fact of life is that the majority of us are born to be “grocers” of some sort. We aren’t rich. We aren’t powerful. We do what we have to do, not what we want to do. Factory workers. Cashiers. Truck drivers. Cooks. Maids. Desk clerks. Waitresses. On and on the list goes. None of these jobs will make you a millionaire or land you on a list of the world’s most influential people.
Isn’t it interesting, though, that Jesus chose the life of a lowly person for His worldly existence? He was born in a stable, a barn, or some other such place, not in a palace. His first crib was an animal’s feeding trough. He was raised as the earthly son of a carpenter.
He never owned a home. He didn’t have a closet full of clothes. He didn’t demand an audience with the Emperor of Rome or the Jewish High Priest. He depended upon the hospitality of others. He ate with anyone who would eat with Him, and He sought out society’s undesirables: rough fisherman, despised tax collectors, scarlet women, lepers, and demon-possessed people.
You tell me, if Jesus had lived in Paris during the days when Arsene lived there, would He have looked upon the grocer as being beneath Him? You know that answer. The chances are more likely that He would have gone into the place of business where Arsene worked and made a point of speaking to him. Remember, this is the same Savior who said:
Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. (Luke 6:20, N.I.V.)
Does this quote mean that Jesus loves poor people more than He does rich people? No. It also doesn’t mean that every poor person has an automatic pass into Heaven, regardless of whether or not the person has believed in Jesus as Savior. What it does mean is that Jesus doesn’t use the same standards as the world in dealing with people. He doesn’t dismiss the lowly out of hand. He doesn’t see them as a means to an end. To Him, they are every bit as important as the richest people on earth.
It’s a shame that Arsene either didn’t know this about Jesus or didn’t place value upon it. It’s a shame the young fellow didn’t understand that there is no greater version of being a “man” than serving Jesus and letting Him use you — whatever your station in life happens to be — to serve others. In Jesus’ way of thinking, true greatness comes through serving. To Him, greatness isn’t ruling the world; it’s washing the feet of others (John 13:1-13).
Christian, let me encourage you today to take whatever role you are playing in life right now and “baptize” it into service to Jesus. You see, it’s not just the pastor, the evangelist, or the missionary who can be classified as being in full-time service to Jesus. The fact is that every Christian should see himself or herself as being in such service. Does Jesus need a servant in the pulpit? Yes, but He also needs one in the assembly line. Does He need one on the mission fields? Yes, but He also needs one in the grocery store. This is what Arsene, tragically, never realized.