Friday, April 26, 2013

Thankless Jobs

Yesterday, my Purpose Driven Life e-devotional by Pastor Rick Warren was on Luke 16:10, which states, "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much."  Pastor Warren wrote about integrity and how God tests our integrity in the small areas of life to see if we're going to be faithful in the big areas.  His premise in the devotional was that if you are not faithful in the little things in life, you will definitely not be faithful in the big things.  I would agree with this strongly.  

I thought a lot about this on a personal level and felt some strong conviction in a couple of small areas in which my faithfulness isn't always top-notch.  Lately, I have been struggling greatly with my eating and exercising.  It's been a long winter here in Kansas, and being a singer, I am unable to run outdoors when it is less than 60 degrees.  Doing so gives me a horrible sore throat, causes my nose to run profusely, and then brings on a bad cough which is harmful to my singing voice.  Therefore, in cold weather, I am considerably less faithful with my running and training.  Instead of running my typical four to five times a week, I've only been running about one to two times a week (I despise the smelly, crowded gym).  To make matters worse, I have begun another unhealthy habit--I don't really eat all day, but then I want to pig-out all night.  This is a horrendous thing to do as a middle-aged woman and wreaks havoc on not only your digestive system, but also on your metabolism.  I know better.  But do I eat sensibly during the day so as not to, "starve" myself, and then eat an early, light supper?  No, I don't.  I tend to get so busy during the day that I forget to eat.  So then my metabolism plummets right before I stuff my face with an enormous meal.  Then I top it all off with a typical late night snack (and any health advocate will tell you that no middle-aged female should even be eating after 8PM at night).  Faithfulness in the small things...ouch.

But I also thought about areas, big and small, where I have been and am faithful.  I praised God that He has helped me to be a woman of character and integrity on any level in my life.  Truth be known, without God's help, my great love for Him, my humble fear of Him, my great need for His blessing in my life, and my huge desire to please Him, I would be anything but faithful.  I thought about times in my life when I was faithful and God blessed me abundantly for it.  He does this often.  Then I thought about times when I was faithful and God allowed me to be used, abused, and even hurt by that faithfulness.  Sometimes we don't always get what we deserve in this life.  Perhaps we are judged unfairly or overworked by domineering, self-important people who take us for granted.  But I believe that God is a just God.  I believe that He makes all things right eventually.  I also believe that He sees all we do behind the scenes and on the scene.  He knows our hearts.  You may be a weary mom of small children who struggles every day just to find time to get a shower and look remotely decent.  Maybe you've been up half the night with a sick kiddo, or perhaps you have a husband who hasn't changed even one diaper of any of your four children (or rarely does). Maybe you have a boss who tosses sexual innuendos your way, making you feel small and devalued.  Perhaps your boss plays games, manipulates you, plays favorites, and pits people against one another for his/her own satisfaction.  Maybe you worked and killed yourself for months or years towards a job, position, or promotion you thought you were going to be given only to see it be handed easily to someone less deserving, less appreciative, and/or less qualified. Maybe you worked and invested in a friendship you thought was mutual only to discover it was all about them and what they expected from you--and you and your needs were just a fleeting thought for them.  Take heart, friend--God sees all that you have done selflessly or without thanks.  He sees all that you are doing for others in worthy service bearing His good name.  Colossians 3:23 states, "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men."  Likewise, 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.As believers, we are to do everything, big and small, for the glory of God and as if He is our ultimate boss and authority--because He is.  Even if those in power over us do not recognize or reward us, God will.  He is their boss, too, even if they choose not to recognize it, and even if they are not "believers."  

We know from God's Word that anyone in leadership who possesses a "God-complex," and abuses and uses others beneath them, better take a step-back and watch out.  God despises the proud, warns against provoking others to wrath, and hates those who stir-up strife with haughtiness and abuse of power.  In fact, if we are in a leadership role over anyone we are in some ways more responsible for our behavior than our subordinates are for theirs.  This is even truer in the body of Christ where we are all supposed to think of others as better than ourselves and where we are called to work toward peace and unity.  Philippians 2:3 states, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves."  Ephesians 4:3-6 states, "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, Who is over all and through all and in all."  No where in God's Word will you find an exemption on this given to bosses or those in power.  We are ONE, period.  Those in charge are as much in subordination to God as those beneath them.

I have recently made a vow with myself that whenever I feel used or "taken for granted" by anyone for any purpose, I will think about all the poverty stricken women in the world who spend hours in the heat toiling in fields just to feed their starving children.  I will think of the women who walk hundreds of miles every week just to carry water to their villages.  These ladies aren't being paid to do this and sure aren't getting any national recognition or praise for serving their families.  I'm guessing they aren't having much fun, either. So most of us really don't have it that badly, and we can trust that God will right all wrongs anyway.  Rest assured--God will judge the hearts, minds, and attitudes of those who work with His purposes, His name, and His glory in mind, as well as those who do not, regardless of the position.  He always blesses our service to others when it's done with a righteous spirit and motive.  Likewise, He will chastise those with impure motives and actions.  Regardless of your job and whether it is a paid position or not, God sees your honest, humble work.  God is watching us as Luke 16:10 states, and He sees our faithfulness even in the small things. The world may view your tasks and service as pointless or lacking in value.  God often thinks otherwise.  In fact, I happen to think that many of those ladies toiling in fields and carrying water will one day be rock stars in heaven (if they know the Lord, that is).  God's Word says in Matthew 19 and 20 that in the Kingdom of God, "many who are first shall be last, and many who are last will be first."  So I believe wholeheartedly that even if we aren't rewarded by God in this life for what we have done here faithfully, He will make it right in heaven--and the rewards we will get there far surpass any material possessions or wealth we are offered here.  His Word says it and I believe it.  This knowledge should motivate and encourage us to work toward better faithfulness in both the small, unseen areas of life as well as, the big, visible ones.  God bless, and keep on keepin' on!

Related Scripture:

Hebrews 6:10, "God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them."

James 4:10, "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up."

Matthew 6:19-20, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal."