To my dear blog friends, I have been overwhelmed lately with working on a book, tutoring, counseling, parenting teens, home repairs, and other bits of life. I’ve managed to read a scattered few of your posts and I continue to keep them for some fantastical future day where I will magically have time to read 84,302 posts by my fellow bloggers.
But until that day comes, here is a repost of an old blog of mine which is appropriate for me on this Good Friday. In the near future, I hope to make a public confession and share what God has done through the situation I wrote about years ago. For now, a flashback:
“So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”
I don’t know about you, but I find it far too easy to fall into what I can only call the “appreciation trap.”
In my head I long to serve God with pure motives and an undivided heart, cheerfully and humbly industrious, motivated by love of my King and totally free from any selfish ulterior motives.
That describes what I want. What happens in actual, real life is sometimes quite different.
Often I begin this way. I will set my hand to a task, working from an abundance of love and energy. Then the days grind on, my fervor lags, the joy in my ministry is replaced by a sense of drudgery, and suddenly I find myself wondering why I am not acknowledged for what I do or why I feel so invisible.
Without knowing quite how it happened, I find I am no longer working out of sheer love for God but have instead developed a desire for recognition and appreciation.
I suppose I could say that it’s just the sin nature and shrug it off. I could continue on, pretending that my motives are truly pure. I could quit.
However, if I am serious about my spiritual growth and truly “working out my own salvation with fear and trembling,” as Paul put it, cannot shrug it off. Truth be told, regarding my sin with casual indifference, pretending it does not exist, or giving up are not viable options if I am to grow in Christ.
What I need at such times is an attitude adjustment; a reminding of who I am in Christ… and also of who I would be without Him.
In Christ, I am acceptable to God, forgiven and beloved, no longer a condemned and forsaken criminal under the death penalty. Not only pardoned, but wonder of wonders! I am adopted as His child! By grace, I am in the process of being lovingly reformed.
There was a price on my head, and Christ paid it with His life. Because of this undeserved gift, I can now approach the Throne of Grace wearing His righteousness to cover my shame.
That is no small thing, people. Not at all.
Without Him… well, I shudder to think of getting what I really deserve. Do I honestly want the recognition owed to me? I think not, for I may be recognized not only for the trivial and paltry good that I have done but also for the appalling atrocities I have committed.
Suddenly, when I consider the matter of my meager service in light of my unmerited favor with God, I have to admit that my desire for acknowledgement is more than a touch ludicrous.
Is it not reasonable for the God who granted me reprieve, indeed who paid the cost of my crimes with His own blood to expect a grateful compliance to His wishes?
What’s more, even if He did not redeem me, am I not created by Him and for His purposes in the first place? Do I praise my cup for holding water? Ought I not to perform the functions He created me to do and that without complaint or need for acknowledgement from others? Then I ought to do so doubly for sheer joy that not only did He shape me, but He saved me from my own poor choices as well!
Oh, Father! Today I thank You for humbling me when my pride swells. Forgive me for my sense of entitlement. Keep my heart humble and teachable, and never let me forget that my standing before You is undeserved. May I bring You glory and be willing to relinquish every shred of ambition and pride. You must increase and I must decrease.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed … work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or questioning,