We are a sports mad society. Whether it be football, basketball, hockey, or – oh yeah – baseball, our eyes are glued to the TV sets to watch the latest effort of our favorite team. Well, mostly. There are TV channels devoted to sports. There are websites and magazines all set up so that we can follow our sports heroes, or goats, and discuss their exploits endlessly. In every sport, it seems, we discuss the nuances and strengths of every position – well, except in football. Those offensive linemen sure don’t seem to get much support in the statistics. About the only statistic you can measure those linemen in is in their penalties. And we moan and groan about those penalties. We note how often linemen kill drives, but we often forget that without good line play, there would be no drives at all.
I truly believe that if ours were a just world, someone would find a way to recognize offensive linemen for their expertise. We would have solid evidence to know if a lineman is great, or just good. These are the people who do the hardest work and make the offensive machine work, and all we know them for are their mistakes. When it comes to serving God, we hear about the pastors and they music people. Associate pastors, maybe not so much. Youth ministers – we roll our eyes. But if any church is going to grow; if any church is going to make an impact, it happens when the people in the pew do the work of evangelism; when the lay leaders are doing the work of Christ in the church. Paul was talking about deacons when he said the following, but it applies to all Christians. “Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 3:13)
This verse comes at the end of a passage where Paul is talking about religious leaders. He reminds Timothy that the reward for a religious leader goes beyond money. One who serves well gets an excellent standing. People in the church will recognize their work. People outside the church will grudgingly admit that maybe not ALL Christians deserve to be persecuted. Their ultimate reward will be hearing the words, “well done, thou good and faithful servant.” There’s another reward as well: assurance in their faith. Most of those who question their faith are people who haven’t seen God working in their lives. Often, the reason they don’t see God working in their faith is that they are not working in faith. They may be toiling and doing burdensome work, sometimes even for God, but they’re seeking to be accepted by God rather than recognizing that God already loves them and working out of the joy of serving Him. When we work from that joy, we see God working in our lives and gain assurance of our faith.
God takes note of all of these things, whether others see them or not. Jesus reminds us to do our good deeds in secret knowing that God will reward us for those good works. People may see what you do and you may gain an excellent reputation among the people of the world for your faith work. That’s good. We know then that it’s worthwhile. At the same time, when it seems like you’re working hard for nothing, especially when others get the recognition, remember that God still knows what you do. When you allow God to work through you, not only do amazing things happen, you gain joy, you get an excellent standing in God’s eyes, and you realize that God really is present in your life. While recognition and, dare I say it, fame are great earthly rewards for doing God’s work, the ultimate reward is given to us by God when we’re faithful to Him.
Lord, I get tired sometimes when it seems like I’m working and nothing appears to get accomplished. Remind me that when I work in faith, that You do far more than I can imagine with what little I do.