I have been reading a book called Overcoming Apathy by Uche Anizor. I am reading it partly to help me encourage people in my life, but also for myself. To be honest, I have been having a hard time the last few months getting words on a page for this blog. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been saying the same things over and over, other times my thoughts don’t move past the first sentence or paragraph. Part of it is some feelings of apathy, that I don’t know anything I’m writing is actually worthwhile, so what’s the point? Or that no one would miss this if I didn’t write anything at all. I am not looking for any validation here (though I very much appreciate those of you who have commented on some of the blogs in the past); I am just letting you know what I’m going through because maybe you’ve been feeling the same way with one or more things in your life. Does anyone notice when you clean the house? Does anyone care how much effort you put into your work? Does anyone even pay attention to the little things you do to make other people’s lives easier? I am reminded of what my mom always used to say about if you receive rewards and praise on earth, you will miss out on being rewarded for it in heaven. This comes from Jesus’ words in the beginning of Matthew 6. He talks about not “practicing your righteousness in front of others” because if we do that we “will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 6:1) We should give to the needy, fast, and pray in secret instead of looking for people to acknowledge our deeds. While I would much rather have God tell me, “Well done, my good and faithful servant” when I get to heaven rather than anything anyone here on earth could say or do, it can be hard to keep going when you feel like it doesn’t really matter right now.
Guess what?! It does matter. Do not give up, even if you do not see any results right now. Sometimes (or maybe very often) we need to ask ourselves why we do the things we do. Are we doing it for praise? For validation? If those are the reasons, it will be even more discouraging if no one acknowledges what we have done. It will be quite easy to quit in a huff because why should we be bothering?
In the story Jesus tells of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25:31-46, He says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (verse 40) We should be doing everything for Him. Big or small. For our family, for strangers, or for our job. Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” God sees everything we do, and if we do not see rewards of our efforts here on earth, He will reward us for it when we get to heaven. Perhaps that reward will be seeing how many people we actually touched with our smiles, our generosity, our patience. Maybe we will see how many lives we saved by taking a moment to truly engage with random people we might have normally just passed by. It usually takes very little effort from us to be kind, yet the results can be a thousand times greater than the thing we do.
Our hearts will not be blessed, our lives will not be changed if we expect or need validation here on earth. So, keep smiling at the cashier at the store, keep filling that dishwasher, keep doing whatever you are doing, and remember Who you are doing it for and Who sees you. Ask Him for encouragement when you get down. He’s with you. Always.