How should we respond when we are unappreciated? It’s a question we all face. We want to excel. We want to be noticed. We want to be thanked. We want our efforts to be valued. It’s only natural. And instead of telling us to get used to being unappreciated, God actually gives us some incredible promises that we are being appreciated in ways we may have never expected. Here’s Pastor John, preaching back in 1991, to explain.
Let me close with two illustrations of how this works out in two kinds of situations. First, the hurt that you experience when the good you do is not noticed or appreciated.
Parents who never say or said, “Good job,” no matter how hard the kid tried. They never said it: “Good job.” It’s a black hole of parenthood.
Children who never thanked mom for thousands of meals and rides and laundry — never say a word. How does a mom survive?
Husbands and wives who long ago stopped saying to each other, eyeball to eyeball, “I love you. I’m so glad I married you. Thanks for all you do.” It’s just a black hole: nobody notices; nobody says anything.
God Is the Answer
Do you know what the answer to that is? God. God is the answer. Listen to Matthew 6:4: Jesus says, “Your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” It’s a God issue. It’s a God issue. It’s a God issue. It’s a God issue. That’s the way you’ll survive when every effort of love disappears in a black hole. It’s a God issue that will keep you smiling. It’s a God issue that will keep you hopeful and happy and resourceful and flowing and flowing and flowing till the day you die, when nobody says, “Thank you.” It’s a God issue. You can bring more glory to your God by pressing on in thankless love than you can by any other means.
But it’s a God issue. That’s why I said “mindful of God” in 1 Peter 2:19 is the most important phrase in the book. Conscious of God — are we conscious of God? So often I find myself not even thinking about God when I get angry at somebody. Of course I’m going to get angry; I’ve got no resources. It’s me and them, and there’s justice to be done. God’s gone; he’s out of the world. And I’m just pleading with you to figure God back into the equation this morning, and to figure him first, on this illustration, as the one who sees in secret and rewards you.
Mark this now: We’re sinners, okay? No problem. We’re sinners; we do lots of bad things. They will be covered in the cross. But we do lots of good things. The Bible says God is not so unjust as to overlook your good deeds (Hebrews 6:10). You do good things. Everybody in this room does good things, if you’re a believer. God writes down every one of them in his book. Every single one is kept in a book. It doesn’t matter if nobody else in the world — children, spouses, parents, grandparents, colleagues, friends, roommates — never say a word; God writes it down.
“Nothing escapes God’s notice. Nothing falls from his memory.”
And therefore, you can go to your room, get down on your knees, and say, “Father, of all the audiences in the world that I would like to have, you’re the most important. And I want to thank you that you have noticed and that you approved. And I love you and I need you and I trust you. And would you grant me the grace now to be free from self-pity, and move on and love?” God is the answer, folks. God is the answer.
Lay Your Burden Down
One last illustration — namely, the hurt that you experience, not so much when you are ignored or the good that you do disappears into a black hole, but when the good that you do comes back in your face, is twisted, is persecuted. Someone lies about you at work and you lose your job, and it’s totally unjust — totally unjust. Or you confide in someone and bare your soul, and they turn it against you; they reject you. Or for the first time in your life — prayerfully, meekly — you sit down in front of an abortion mill in Fargo, and you get thrown in the North Dakota State Penitentiary for nine months; that’s where Karen Sorensen is. Or David Buck: he’s in jail right now in Wichita.
How do you survive and go on loving people when your deep judicial sense says, “No, it isn’t right. This can’t be tolerated; it’s not fair”? And the answer is God.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.” (Romans 12:19–20)
“Don’t you swear at him. Don’t you kick him. Don’t you write nasty letters about him. You love him. You bless him. Pray for him. And I will be the avenger.” It’s a God issue. Do you trust God? Do you trust God with the justice of your life? You do what Jesus did: he handed over “to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23). Nothing escapes God’s notice. Nothing falls from his memory. He settles accounts with absolute justice, and so we can lay it down.
So, here’s what it all boils down to: remember God. I just can’t say it any more simply: Remember God. Remember God. Be conscious of God. Trust God. God will reward you for all the right things that you have done when nobody else knows them. And God will avenge you for all the wrong that has been done to you when nobody else knows them, so that now, if you believe this God, if he’s real to you, if you are conscious of him, if you bank on him, then you can be done with self-pity.
And I just invite you — I plead with you: leave the yoke and the burden of life-ruining self-pity on these benches when you walk out this morning. Self-pity ruins life. You can’t see anything. You can’t see beauty. You can’t see people. You can’t do anything wholesome or feel large feelings. Nothing noble comes out of your life. You’re just grumbling down there, getting right, getting even. So, just leave that on the bench when you leave, because God will reward you for everything good you’ve ever done when nobody else has noticed. And it’s going to be good. You’ll wonder at that day: Why did I ever feel sorry for myself?
“God will reward you for everything good you’ve ever done.”
And the second is: God sees every wrong that’s ever been done to you, and he will either forgive that by crushing his Son for it, in which case you surely wouldn’t want to take it into your own hands and say, “I can do better than Jesus when he bled for that sin. I can vindicate myself better than Jesus vindicated me by dying.” You would never want to say that.
Or if they do not believe, God will put them in hell, and they will burn forever and ever and ever for the sin against you. And you would not want to take that into your hands either. It’s going to be settled, folks, and you can lay on the bench, as you leave this morning, the yolk of self-pity and the yolk of bitterness and vengeance, and walk out of here free men and free women and free children.