If you missed my first Chase post, find it here.
Jimmy and I are participating in a study group at our new church, and one of the assignments is to read through all 4 gospels in 4 weeks. We were advised to “count the cost” before agreeing to join, and the cost is high, but nothing compared to the reward of a deepened relationship with our Father.
I read Matthew last week and one of the things that struck me is Jesus’ concern with where the heart is rather than the external actions of those He came into contact with.
““Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Matthew 6:1-6, emphasis added
He is asking me to do what I am called to do, with or without the approval of others.
He is asking me to serve selflessly without posting about it on Instagram.
He is asking me to donate generously without putting my name on a plaque.
He is asking me to pray eloquently without a human audience.
He is asking me to sacrifice readily without expecting to be repaid.
He is asking me to carry my cross willingly without demonstrating its weight.
Of course I’d rather have God’s recognition than man’s, but if…
…this person would just read my blog…
…I would just be chosen for this award…
…my husband would thank me just once…
…my pastor would say my name to the congregation…Then I would be validated.
Here’s the thing…these things don’t really validate us.
Like all sources of fleeting joy, chasing recognition empties us and leaves us wanting more. So we chase more, try harder, shout louder, and do bigger. And we feel emptier than when we started, because the praise of men was never meant to fill our void.
Because this particular chase is so internal, its antidote similarly starts from within, through prayer.
Examine your own heart. In what areas are you relying on human recognition for validation?
Satan rejoices when we are uplifted by the empty praises of our peers. He cheers even louder when the same let us down.
If that’s you today, crawl back to God and be received by Him. Pour out your heart to Him. Admit your inadequacy and ask for His strength. Plead with Him to relieve you of the burden of human recognition, and replace it with His freedom.
And as a parent praises their child, so your Father will receive you. He loves you desperately and hates to see you hurt. He designed you to find your worth in Him alone.
He knows the longings of your heart, and He is enough to fill every one. Shine on, beloved.