Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Have you ever stayed up at night worrying if people think what you are doing is right or will turn out okay? Maybe wondered if the boss approves of the decisions you made at work or if they saw you doing that extra work. How about hoping that the right person was watching when you volunteered for the concession stand at your child’s school?
It is probably safe to say that everyone of us have gone through something similar to all of these, maybe even multiple times. Too often it may be the smallest thing that keeps us awake at night or has us worry during the day. It could have been a compliment you expected before someone walks away, wanting to be part of a group but not selected, or anytime you go unnoticed.
The quest to be accepted or the center of attention is not the best human trait to be dominant, but too often it steps to the forefront. Even the best people you can think of have to fight that urge to only think of themselves. It may not be to the same degree as that ego maniac you knew growing up or had the displeasure to work with.
You may even think that it doesn’t really matter because you don’t hurt anyone and are not really causing a problem. But being that person who helps out or the first to volunteer just for the recognition can get exhausting especially when no one notices. If this happens it can put you through a whole range of unnecessary emotions from anger to anxiety.
When you really think about it, this is no way to live. Life has enough for you to worry about and trying to keep up appearances becomes exhausting. I spent years running myself in the ground trying to get that validation from others. It was not until I really began to listen to what is written in God’s word that things began to change.
Scriptures like 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us one thing we should do, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” What ever we do, do it to honor God. If you are not sure what this means, then think of it this way. What is the right thing to do? If you are still not sure you can find plenty of examples in the Bible.
You can start with the lessons that Jesus taught us through out the Gospels, but there are examples everywhere on how we should be treating each other. Just remember Matthew 23:12, “And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Show your faith through love and kindness to everyone around you without looking for recognition.
James 2:14-17 is a good cautionary reminder, “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
This is like Seth, a popular boy in school. He played sports, had lots of friends, and was active in his church. One day when he was leaving school he saw a few older boys run into Jeremy knocking his books and papers all over the hallway. Jeremy was in his class and he thought lived around the corner from him.
Seth stopped to help Jeremy pick up his stuff then offered him a ride home. They talked and laughed on the way and he was right that Jeremy lived near him. Seth started giving Jeremy a ride to school every morning and home when he didn’t have practice. They became friends and Jeremy even started going to youth group with Seth.
Since they both had different interests they didn’t see much of each other besides the rides to and from school and at youth group, but they still remained good friends. Jeremy ended up the valedictorian when they graduated and had to make a speech. After the usual greeting Seth listened as Jeremy described how he was bullied a few years earlier and thought about committing suicide.
The day he was planning on going out under the stadium bleachers to do it, a few guys knocked his books out of his hands and then everything changed. As I bent over to pick them up someone knelt beside me to help then offered me a ride home. It was on that day when I was at my lowest God sent someone into my life to save me.
Seth sat there with tears in his eyes and couldn’t remember the rest of Jeremy’s speech. On that first day, Seth wasn’t looking for validation because he did the right thing, but years later he received confirmation that his actions were the right ones. I had this happen as well, where I was told years later that my reflecting God’s love in the things I did helped people around me.
Look around you today. How many Jeremy’s can you find in your own life? You may know someone that you thought about helping, but hesitated. Here is your chance, or you can pray to ask God to keep your eyes open and place those who are in need in your path today. Either way remember to reflect God’s love in everything you do as I hope you will enjoy, “Not something that you earn.”
NOT SOMETHING THAT YOU EARN
It always seems like I am seeking approval for the things I do,
Wanting praise or a compliment even if the task is not through.
The worry doesn’t seem to end if what I’m doing is good,
Many times never once stopping to think if I even should.
Sometimes feeling that center stage is the only place to be,
Then I pause at just the right moment for everyone to see.
Even with all that I am doing to help and getting involved,
Lord, there is still an emptiness with many feelings unresolved.
My child, you are bringing struggles with those selfish thoughts,
Causing your anxiety to rise and your stomach to tie in knots.
It’s not about taking credit or the recognition for your good works,
You should want to do the right thing without looking for any perks.
When you count your own blessings, you will see you have plenty to give,
If you open your eyes you will see those who may be struggling to live.
By serving others with a loving heart, no matter what you get in return,
Fore it is by my grace you have been saved, Not Something That You Earn.
Simple Faith Christian