A part of our lives as Christians comes in giving thanks. We thank God for our food, good health, and blessings. We teach our children to say “please” and “thank you” from the earliest age. All of this is good and proper.
The question comes, however, when we put ourselves in the place of the master. When we give, not out of love or humility, but so we are recognized as loving and giving, we then expect to receive gratitude for ourselves.
Is this what God requires?
Jesus made it pretty clear, in my opinion:
Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven…But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.Matthew 6:1, 3-4 NIV
Years ago, my husband and I received an anonymous check from someone through our church. As it was anonymous, I did not know whom to thank for their generosity. A few weeks later, a man came up to me in the hallway and asked if I’d received his check. Realizing he was the “anonymous” donor, I smiled and thanked him for his gift.
Elisabeth Elliot understood what Jesus was talking about earlier as well as why we should not be looking for recognition. She is addressing this passage in Luke 17:
“Which one of you having a servant tending sheep or plowing will say to him when he comes in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? Instead, will he not tell him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, get ready, and serve me while I eat and drink; later you can eat and drink’? Does he thank that servant because he did what was commanded? In the same way, when you have done all that you were commanded, you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we’ve only done our duty.’”Luke 17:7-10 CSB
She wrote, referring to Jesus’s words to his disciples:
“We are servants and deserve no credit; we have only done our duty.” There is not much of that spirit around today. We do not recognize mastery. We do not see ourselves at the disposal of the Lord. We expect appreciation. We would like at least a thank-you, and perhaps an approving little pat.Elisabeth Elliot, Discipline
Are you able to serve God in secret? What can you do this week to bless another in his name without seeking credit? Make the effort to purposefully do good without reward. Remembering who your master is will help you to put it into practice until it becomes second nature.
Grace and Peace