I am currently reading The Theology of the Cross by Daniel M. Deutschlander. It is a very good read that explains Christ’s call to pick up our cross and follow Him. It is also heavy. I have to read a few pages and then give myself time to absorb and process the information.

Last night I read the following passage.

It is essential to the Christian’s life of service that we recognize that basic fact-the fact of sin not just in ourselves but in everyone else as well.

This is true. It is probably one of the hardest parts about attending church. There are just so many sinners there! People do not act the way that they are supposed to act.  Oh, and judgy Tressa notices it all. Because, you know, I am so great, right? (Please note the sarcasm.)

(sarcasm continues)

Look at all I have done for my fellow man. For my husband and my children. They do not appreciate me. I try to serve my neighbor in my church, and it goes unnoticed. Oh, woe is me! Why bother? Why do I continue to do these things when everyone is so unappreciative? Instead I should serve myself and make myself happy because we all know that making myself happy is the primary goal. No one else is going to do it. My happiness is my responsibility.

(end sarcasm)

Yes, I was being sarcastic, but I would be lying if I said that these thoughts hadn’t crossed my mind. Often. It leads me to a road of bitterness. And why wouldn’t it? It is all about self. Because even though I am serving my neighbor the end result I am looking for is accolades for myself. Again, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that to myself. For example, I make dinner most nights for my family. Would it hurt for them to recognize that fact? I spend a hour preparing a healthy meal that they then eat in 10 minutes. They run from the table in the hopes that I will clean the kitchen for them. Where is the thanks? Where is the adoration for the meal? For my hard work for them? Me! Me! ME!

From the book..

Ah, but we know from the beginning-as the result of sin in the world, that is exactly what we should expect! And if we expect it, then we will not be so easily disappointed or deterred in our service…….For we did not expect thanks and did not serve looking for a reward.

What? Did not serve looking for a reward? Ouch. Our world is all about rewards. Rewards..awards..either way. I want an award for my service. When I was the Chair of Volunteers for NMCRS, one of my main jobs was making sure that the volunteers felt appreciated. I gave little thank-you gifts every month and special ones for holidays. Twice a year we had a ceremony to recognize the volunteers. Certificates and awards were given out. My director even awarded one to me. Boy, did that feel good.

Isn’t that what we are looking for as we serve others in our daily lives? I am not saying that volunteers shouldn’t be recognized, but is that what Christian service is all about? I think this is what makes such a painful awareness for me. I think/thought it was. I work hard and then I am rewarded. And when I am not, I become bitter. 

I am being brutally honest with myself here.

We need to get it straight. These are the only two alternatives. Either we live for others, expecting disappointment and then being pleasantly surprised when disappointment is replaced with appreciative acceptance; or we live expecting appreciation and end up retreating in bitterness when we discover that most people are just as sinful as we are and not afraid to prove it.

And that, my friends, is something to think about.