A gracEmail reader who works hard to do good and to help others feels sad and frustrated because his work often goes unnoticed, while others who seemingly do less work and do it less well receive public attention and praise. He asks how to find freedom from his disappointment and dismay.
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Your experience and struggle are common for God’s people. Perhaps the key (which I do not always properly use myself) is in doing our work “for the Lord” in the first place and at each step along the way. Then we need only his approval — of which we may be sure when we have done our work with love and with care. That allows us to take pleasure in knowing that we have done the work well, whether anyone else on earth acknowledges it or not. It also frees us from undue concern about human criticism, since we are not working for other people but for Christ.
One man who learned this lesson was Watchman Nee, the Chinese apostle and martyr who died in 1972, ending 20 years of confinement and torture in a communist prison. Throughout his ministry, Nee suffered unjust accusations, betrayal and desertion by supposed friends and gospel coworkers, as well as times of great popularity in China and even international acclaim. Yet he did not seek the praise of other humans and did not defend himself against their unjust criticism. God had taught him that his only master was Christ, and that the opinion of anyone else — whether a good opinion or bad — was simply irrelevant.
Jesus knows what you have done and are doing for him. Give your labor and productivity to him, for his honor and glory — a gift from you to the Master. That elevates your work beyond anything human recognition can possibly reward. It removes your work from the authority of human judgment. It frees you from the twin tyrants of human criticism and of human praise.