31-34 “Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.
We have all heard the scripture do unto others as you would have them do to you. I read this scripture in the Message Bible the other day and it began to make me think and I wanted to write a blog. I really thought about this blog before I decided to go ahead and write it because I wanted to make sure that the thought in my heart was truly being conveyed and that I was not sounding like I was whiny or coming across as "poor me". But I decided to go ahead with it because I just have to believe that I am not the only one who has dealt with what I am about to write!
Have you ever felt like you were giving and getting nothing in return? Have you ever felt like you were there for everybody when they needed you but that the crickets were the only thing singing when you reached out? I think we have all been there. Trying to be Christian, trying to do what we think God would ask of us and feeling like we did it and no one cared or appreciated our effort. I have been a Christian most of my life and in the ministry for a majority of it. I can tell you that the quickest way to lose your salvation is to lose focus of who you are really doing things for and who your true source is!
I would like to say that my time in the ministry has been nothing but roses, and that Christians have always acted ... well... like Christians :) But let's be realistic; that world only exists in our imaginations and according to the cool Christmas commercials, Walgreens :) The enemy is very cunning. He often uses the things closest to our hearts to worm his way in. We stand alert to the outside influences and we pray and stand strong against the big sins! So he gets to us by using our insecurities, our loneliness, our self esteem. He convinces us that we are not appreciated. He tells us that the Pastor doesn't even know our name, that we could miss 2 months and no one would actually notice. He cons us into believing that there are "favorites" in the church and that we do not fit into that exclusive group. We get fired up in our "righteous indignation" and we end up changing churches or walking away from God altogether. We allow our hurt feelings and our wounded spirits to dictate our actions. We let our judgement become clouded by what we perceive as a slight or an offense.
You may say, "April how can you even know any of this? You serve God. You are friendly. You seem to have so many friends and know so many people!" I can say this to you because the enemy has tried to use this con on me so many times! He keeps a very accurate record down to the little details and he loves to show me the "movie" if I am willing to watch. Some of April's greatest hits have included: "Look at all the years you gave to the ministry of Master's Commission. How many of the leaders or former students have reached out to you in the last few years?" Others have included, "Hey April you gave your heart and soul to that church, has your former Pastor even checked in on you and CJ or cared about what became of you?" He evens shows me mini-clips like, "Wow you check on that friend all the time! Look they are always going out with other people and never asking you!"
This may sound funny, but the truth is we are all susceptible to the lies of the enemy. He loves to expose and take advantage of our generous nature, of our sensitive souls. It is so easy to fall prey to the lies of the enemy because he has learned that subtle whispers work so good on God's people. That they fall for them and they spread his lies without even knowing they are unwittingly being used by the person that they hate the most! We lose sight of WHO we are doing things for and WHO the Source of our need is. When you began to do things for the sake of a person, you will always be let down. People were never meant to carry the burden of being solely responsible for the happiness and worth of another person. We are all on a level playing field. We are all imperfect, capable of making mistakes. Mark it down. You will let someone down and be let down by someone. That's just how life goes.
A trick I have found that is effective for me when I am facing these moments of feeling like I am invisible, that my efforts don't matter, etc. is to pour my time and my efforts into things that I may get no praise or recognition for. For example: God put a lady into my life about 2 years ago by the name of Zoey. She is an elderly lady with limited mental and physical capabilities. Working with her is so trying because she will push your last nerve and never be satisfied with what you try to do for her. Zoey will call me at all hours of the day and the night. Most of this is because she is lonely and has no one and is alone in the world. She loves the Lord and quotes His Word to anyone who will listen. Most of the time, no one knows the times I talk to her, the things that I take to her, etc. but that is exactly why I do it! No one knows except God. :)
I use Zoey as my reminder. My reminder that I do what I do because it is what God has called me to do. That I live my life to please Him and Him alone. That He alone can provide the accolades and the security that I need. He will never let me down or forsake me. I need to give because HE first gave. We exercise forgiveness and patience with one another because we will need to be on the receiving end of that forgiveness and patience at any moment. We all need a "Zoey" to remind us that we don't give to get, we don't do to be recognized and that everyone deserves to know that God loves them!
Don't let the enemy trick you and confuse you by causing you to question your heart and others motives. Don't let him fill your spirit with frustration and bitterness towards others. Know your Source and do what you do to please Him and Him alone. Find your "Zoey" to help keep yourself in check and know that when others may not see, He keeps the most accurate record around :)
In this thing called life with you!! :) P.S. Meet my friend Zoey :)