Do we deserve recompense from God for deeds performed?
The question is rhetorical and presents many questions that could divide people who see their efforts as either being taken for granted or unappreciated.
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogue and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your inner room , close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” (Mt. 6: 1-6).
A sure lesson in humility, but also the true manner of performing works with an expectation of praise when you are just doing what is expected of you.
There was a time when Jesus appeared to Augustine asking him for something he had. The Saint wondered what he wanted, showing him his writings and other intellectual artifacts he possessed. Jesus said I just want your sins. We can work very diligently creating volumes of writing, composing musical masterpieces, or inventing great wonders for the advancement of humanity, but when these become the number one purpose of our doing God’s work the result is our fame and earthly reward.
When I began writing for this site one of my first articles was “A Church in Peril” and the views rose quickly which gave me hope of accumulating a number of interested persons. During the past, almost five years, have seen quite a few published articles. I was surprised when recently Catholic 365 changed the format of results and the number of views were removed. At first I wondered how that would affect to my ego. Then a light went off in my brain and to my benefit it became clear it doesn’t matter how many read my work. If even one person is helped with their own struggle or need of understanding something I may have written about then the effort has accomplished the work God handed me to do.
This reminded me of a true story that I sent in one of my articles and want to send it again. Joyce Meyers, a TV spiritual teacher, related this story. A minister was awakened from his sleep and seemingly God was trying to get his attention. He was told to go to the local railroad station and preach a sermon. The minister went back to sleep, believing maybe it was a dream. However two more times he was awakened and finally after the third time got dressed and made his way to the station. He went to a lower level and gave a sermon no doubt on Jesus. No one was in the building, at least he thought.
Some years later an up and coming preacher, Billy Sunday, told a real life story of how he got started in his ministry. One morning, very early, he was in a railroad station and heard someone giving a sermon on Jesus. This became the impetus that began his career as an itinerant preacher.
We never know whom will read one of our articles or hear a sermon from others that the Holy Spirit has chosen to read our work, or hear another and become a Billy Sunday or Billy Graham. It isn’t for us to discern the ears of a new evangelist who will go forth in the world from our gift known only to God. One of the antidotes of growing the kingdom is, one plants a seed, another waters or nurtures the plant, while yet another will harvest the plant that others have started.
Some of God’s blessing giftedness to his children vary. To one the gift to write. Another the gift to make harmonious music. Yet another is given to bear a family while another is handed the ability to govern. Each in their own way with individual gifts to be shared with the rest.
What your gift is comes from God. How you use that gift becomes your choice to do only what you have received without praise. If we wait for acclamation of our using the gifts then perhaps the reward is already had.
Ralph B. Hathaway, Recompense from God - January 2022