Like most children, my husband was taught to say “thank you” when someone says or does something nice for him. Yet, sometimes when I thank him for doing something I appreciate – like cleaning the kitchen – he responds with, “You don’t need to thank me. This is my job.”
It’s an interesting contrast, much like the one we see in Luke 17.
Open your Bible and read Luke 17.
I’m Not a Hero
Jesus uses the illustration in verses 7-10 to exhort His disciples to do what He commanded them (us) to do, without seeking recognition for doing it.
Whenever I see a news story where someone is declared a hero, their response is often, “It was just the right thing to do.” Many times, the “hero” seems uncomfortable with the attention their good deed has brought them.
It’s always nice when someone thanks you for doing a good job, but that affirmation and gratitude shouldn’t be our motivation for doing it. We shouldn’t expect it.
As followers of Jesus Christ, “the right thing” is simply normal. It’s our duty. Like my husband’s attitude about doing the dishes, we live according to God’s Word not because we’re heroes, and not so we can get something in return, but because it’s the right thing to do.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:23-24, ESV).”
Perhaps this principal is particularly fitting during the Christmas season. It’s a time of charity and kindness. People get into a mood to “spread Christmas cheer” and “step up their game” when it comes to doing good. This is one of the reasons this time of year can be so enjoyable – as it should be.
But let’s guard our hearts against pride and reward-seeking.
“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. 4 Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you (Matthew 6:1-4, NLT).”
Jesus is Worthy of Praise
Immediately following this reminder about having a heart of humility, Jesus performs a miracle. He heals 10 lepers, but only one returns to thank Him (v. 11-19). He asks the thankful one, “Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner (v.18)?”
Here’s the contrast.
You and I are sinners. Even if we did as much good as is humanly possible, we would still fall far short of God’s standard of holiness.
“We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6, NLT)…”
But God is so gracious and merciful, so full of love and compassion, that He continually showers us with good things. The fact that I woke up this morning to face another day is an act of His mercy and grace.
Yet, how often do we forget to even acknowledge what He’s done for us or what He’s given us?
He deserves our praise.
The closer we get to Christmas, the easier it is for us to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of this season without taking a moment to give God the glory for the very thing we’re celebrating.
Let’s change that today. You had time to read this devotional. Why not take a few more minutes to thank God for what He’s done for you? And if you find that hard this time of year, Psalm 107 may help.