One of my most favorite TV shoes ever was “The Cosby Show.” Cliff & Clair Huxtable’s approach to parenting was spot on and pretty much provided America with a weekly guide of how to deal with children of all ages. From teaching Theo how far all his money would take him in the “real world” (what an eye-opener THAT was) to counseling Denise after she married a man in the navy with a toddler, the Huxtables could handle anything that came their way.
Any episode with Elvin in it was TV gold to me. Maybe you will remember this exchange between Clair and her soon-to-be-son-in-law Elvin after Clair offers him and Cliff coffee, thus causing Elvin to respond with a look of surprise:
Elvin Tibideaux: I’m sorry, Mrs. Huxtable, I didn’t think you did that kind of thing.
Clair Huxtable: What kind of thing?
Elvin Tibideaux: You know… serve.
Clair Huxtable: Serve whom?
Elvin Tibideaux: [indicating Cliff] Serve him.
Clair Huxtable: [with a tense smile] Oh, serve *him*. As in “serve your man”?
Elvin Tibideaux: Well, yeah.
Clair Huxtable: [now visibly indignant] Let me tell you something, Elvin. You see, I am not “serving” Dr. Huxtable, okay?
Elvin Tibideaux: Okay.
Clair Huxtable: That’s the kind of thing that goes on in a restaurant. Now I am going to bring him a cup of coffee just like he brought me a cup of coffee this morning. And *that*, young man, is what marriage is made of: it is give-and-take fifty-fifty. And if you don’t get it together, and drop these macho attitudes, you are never gonna have anybody bringing you anything anywhere any place any time EVER.
[pauses, then smiles graciously]
Clair Huxtable: Now, what would you like in your coffee?
Elvin Tibideaux: [shaken] Maybe I can get *you* some coffee.
Clair Huxtable: Elvin, that’s alright. I don’t mind getting it. But thanks for offering.
[Clair takes the tray to the kitchen; Elvin slowly sits down and looks at Cliff, scared]
Elvin Tibideaux: Yes, sir?
Cliff: When she brings the coffee back, if I were you, I wouldn’t drink it.
As funny as that is, Clair’s motive to “serve her man” is love. Why do I serve others? Simply put, it’s because I love Jesus. He is the ultimate, complete example of what it means to serve others. “Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” (Matthew 20:27.28) Clair offered to get Cliff coffee because she loved him and wanted to serve him, not because she had to serve him. And when I serve others out of love for Jesus, it isn’t because I have to – it’s because I want to.
So serve out of love – for Jesus, for others – even your possible-not-so-perfect-still-have-a lot-to-learn-dense-as-a-doorknob-future-son-in-law.
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