Where is my pat on the back?
Most people appreciate a pat on the back for a job well done and doing so will encourage and make that person feel good. However, sometimes people are taken for granted and they rarely receive praise for what they do on a daily basis.
For example, children take their parents for granted all the time. They donít stop and think about everything that mom and dad do for them. Sometimes instead praising their parents for making their lives easier, they cause them grief and heartache. However, this does not stop the parents from continue their work of providing and caring for the kids because they are motivated by love and not reward. Of course parents love it when their children recognize their hard work and sometimes it after they have moved out the house before they do so.
We can also see how people are taken for granted in a marriage. Husbands and wives tend to get into a routine and the wife usually takes care of certain things and the husband takes care of certain things. These jobs that they do many times are taking for granted and most of the time they do not receive a pat on the back for these things. Again, both the husband and the wife would appreciate praise for these things they do, but it is not their main motivation. Again, they are motivated by love for one another and so they do these things.
However, if the husband decides to help his wife with something that she normally does day after day sometimes he expects some praise even though he doesnít give his wife any for that same job she has done over and over again. The same thing is true for the wife. Sometimes they may help their husband with what they normally do and they too expect praise for what their husband does all the time. Again, there nothing wrong with receiving praise, but we have to be careful that we donít find ourselves using praise as our motivation for doing good.
If we put to much emphasis on receiving praise from our mate, then it can lead to an unhappy marriage and there have been many marriages that have ended in divorce because one the parities felt unappreciated. Again, I want to stress that I am not suggesting that we shouldnít praise one another, but it simply should not be our motivation for doing good.
This same concept is true when it comes to serving God. Notice what Jesus says in,
Matthew 5:14 "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.† 15 "Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.† 16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Every Christians is supposed to be a light in this dark world of sin and when we do good works for others they are supposed to be done so that they glorify God in heaven. So, our motivation for do good for others should be because we love God and we want to glorify Him. However, it becomes very tempting for some to be motivated by the praise of others. Again, Jesus talks about this in,
Matthew 6:1 "Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.† 2 "Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.† 3 "But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,† 4 "that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.† 5 " And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.† 6 "But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
First Jesus taught us not to hide our good works so that others could see them and glorify God. However, now Jesus teaching us that we should not be doing good works or charitable deed just to be seen by others. What we have is a different in attitude.
In the first instance, the motivation for good works is to glorify God, but in this second instance Jesus is pointing out the wrong motivation for doing good works is to receive praise from others. Those who find themselves doing good works to receive praise from others are compared to the hypocrites of the first century and Jesus tells us that people who live for praise and receive it have already received their reward and they will not receive anything from the Father in heaven.
This was a problem that that the Pharisees had. As I mentioned in last weeks sermon, Jesus points this out in Mat. 23 where he talks about the Pharisees and how everything they do is done for the praise of others. They prayed long prayers on the street corner to impress others and they give so other can see and will brag about how much they gave.
After Jesus had spoken the parable of the unjust steward in Luke 16 notice what is said in,
Luke 16:14 Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him.† 15 And He said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.†
These Pharisees had gotten to the point to where they were more concerned about justify themselves to others instead of justifying themselves before God. When a person begins† to seek the honor, praise and justification of others then they have moved away from God and he considers this abomination. This is one thing that kept some from believing in Jesus.
John 5:43 "I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive.† 44 "How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?†
This is why its important that we examine ourselves and make sure that our motivation for doing good works is not done to seek the praise of others because when we do this it causes God and His word to become a lower priority in our lives.
Another important thing we need to realize is that God doesnít owe us a thing and we should never have the attitude that God owes us something just because we have done good works that glorify Him. As Paul told the Romans,
Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!† 34 "For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?"† 35 "Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?"† 36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.
Everything we have and can do came from God. He created us and made all things possible for us, but without Him we would have nothing because we would not exist. That is why God will never owe us anything. David understood this because notice what he says in,
1 Chronicles 29:13 " Now therefore, our God, We thank You And praise Your glorious name.† 14 But who am I, and who are my people, That we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, And of Your own we have given You.† 15 For we are aliens and pilgrims before You, As were all our fathers; Our days on earth are as a shadow, And without hope.† 16 " O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build You a house for Your holy name is from Your hand, and is all Your own.
†In the book Ecclesiastes, Solomon spends a great deal of time writing from the perspective as if there is no God and how everything that we do is vanity. However, at the end of his book he comes to following conclusion.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all.† 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.††
As Christians we should fear Him and keep His commandments because He is in control and we will be judged by Him. When it says fear Him it doesnít mean that we should serve Him because we are afraid of Him. Instead, this means that we should respect Him and His authority and we should love Him for what He has done for us and allow our love for Him to be our main motivation and encouragement. Even if no one pats us on our back or praises the work that we do we can still stand tall knowing that we are glorifying God.
Deuteronomy 10:12 " And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,
Again this emphasizes our duty serve God with all our might because we love Him. Jesus called this the Greatest command of the Law in,
Matthew 22:36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?"† 37 Jesus said to him, " 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'† 38 "This is the first and great commandment.
As we serve God in this way and do good works in His name we must not confine our good deeds to those that we know because God wants everyone to experience His love through you. Jesus points this out in,
Luke 6:31 "And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.† 32 "But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.† 33 "And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.† 34 "And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back.† 35 "But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.† 36 "Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.
So, donít limit your good deeds to those who are close to you, branch and touch other peoples lives with the love of God because they deserve your service just as much as those that you love.
When we have the right motivation in our life we will be happy people, but if we find ourselves looking for the praise and respect of others we find ourselves miserable because people will fail you in these areas and in some cases they will even be mean to you and when this happens it will cause to fall away from God because your motivation was wrong. However, if your motivation is right you will not fall away. †Peter talks about this in,
1 Peter 3:13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?† 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed. "And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled."† 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;† 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.† 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
You see, if you are motivated by love and you are following God you will realize that even if you suffer for your good deeds you can know that you are blessed in what you did and you can use bad experiences like this to grow closer to God because you know that you did the right thing according to His will. We can also know that our good deeds will not be ignored by God as,
Hebrews 6:9 But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.† 10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.† 11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end,† 12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Also Paul says,
1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
So, even if you never receive a pat on the back from another person, you can take great satisfaction in knowing that God is pleased with what you are doing.
I think we have a great example right here in our own congregation of those who understand this concept and I am talking about the ladies who teach our young children. Some of the same ladies have been teaching our children and grandchildren for many years now without a break and many times they are taken for granted because they are out of sight and we donít see what they are doing.
Now if they were motivated by the praise of others, then we wouldnít have any teachers for our kids. But, fortunately they are motivated by love. They understand that they are serving God in a very honorable way because they are doing their part in molding these young minds with the Word of God. Knowing that they are doing this to glorify God is all the motivation they need. However, this does not mean that we should not praise them for them for their efforts, because that certainly deserve our admiration, but it shows that understand that their labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Now I want you to think about your own life. Do you find yourself looking for the praise of others when you do good deeds? Have you forgotten that your motivation should be the love that you have for God? If you discover that your motivation is wrong this morning, then you need to change your ways and refocus yourself in loving God and His Word first. We must learn to have the attitude that Paul did,
Galatians 1:10 †For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.
In other words, Paul is saying that we must be pleasing to God first and follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
One the greatest commentaries on this topic I have been preaching comes from Jesus himself and I want to close out this lesson with what tells His disciples because it will †summarize this whole lesson.
Luke 17:7 "And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come at once and sit down to eat'?† 8 "But will he not rather say to him, 'Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink'?† 9 "Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not.† 10 "So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.' "
I hope this lesson will help motivate you to love God 1st and to simply do your Christian duty without worrying about receiving a pat on the back from others.