EVERY SECRET SACRIFICE IS SEEN BY GOD
Growing up, my parents would constantly remind us to say Thank You. The two seemingly simple words that play an important role in how we value and judge our relationships, but as we grow older we are less inclined to demand a thank you as our acts, sacrifice and service grow. Instead, we just expect other people saying it to us, and when they don’t we feel less appreciated and disrespected. We easily start questioning how strong our relationships are, and then run to conclusions to justify our feelings. But with an appreciation, we feel secure and valued.
Is there Selfishness Behind or beneath our Service?
Here is a scenario, you and a friend go for shopping then you remember your friend mentioned last week that he/she was low on money. Then you decide to pay for both your things and theirs. Upon getting home it hits you that he/she did not say “Thank you,” questions like; is she taking advantage of me? Did she not see that I just paid for her groceries? Come to mind. Then it hits you again that your motivation for paying for those things was not totally sincere, because if you wanted to help of which you did, then why are you unsettled? That is because there was something else you were waiting to hear, and that is to be appreciated.
The Approval to Seek
Appreciation is a good thing, there is a reason why it is seen as good manners, actually Jesus himself taught his disciples to appreciate the sacrificial giving of the poor widow (mark 12:41-44). As we grow in good deeds, we must grow in our enjoyment of the Lord’s appreciation more than anyone else’s. Before we were saved, we worked to receive constant appreciation from man, but now we should learn to seek the satisfaction that comes from knowing God (John 5:44). All our good deeds stem from the righteousness of God working from within by his grace, which abounds in more grace. Our lives should be spent responding to his love and mercy, and not seeking for a response from others. We must remember to ask ourselves this; “am I now seeking the approval of man, or that of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).
Our God calls us for much more than we can ever imagine, and his gift is one which none of us deserve or can earn; SALVATION. As we grow in our knowledge of the Lord and his greatness, and of his love, so should our own sense of entitlement diminish. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). Stuart Townend, in his fine song says “why should I gain from his rewards? I cannot find an answer, but this I know with all my heart, His wounds have paid my ransom”
Seeking a greater pleasure
Being appreciated is not bad for our souls, but it can sometimes be dangerous. We can end up forgetting that, even in our greatest works, still “we are unworthy servants; we only have done what was our duty” (Luke 17:10). We should seek to do acts in silence and without a show, though it may be difficult. Jesus went as far as telling us not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing (Matthew 6:3). As Christians, we do not need to tell people we want to donate something to them, just do it. We are not missing anything without man’s praise. In fact, Jesus tells us that man’s praise is short-lived and shallow, but God himself will reward the things done in secret (Matthew 6:2&4).
Therefore, as we seek to grow in God’s spirit and seek a heart after his, we can train our hearts not to expect the “Thank you” because; our true reward is being stored up in heaven.