One of the hardest realities to deal with in life is a lack of gratitude from those we go out of our way to help. It can leave us cynical and less willing to step out and lend a hand or provide assistance to another person in need because of our past hurts. How tempting it is to arrive at the world’s conclusion that “no good deed goes unpunished.”
Our Savior experienced betrayal (Judas) and denial (Peter) from those who were among His closest colleagues. And, when He cured ten lepers, the majority of them felt little need to say “thanks” for His graciousness toward them. Yet, the story of our salvation can be summed up with the words, “[B]ut God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8 ESV).
All of us, at one time or another, have been on the giving end of being that ungrateful person, and we would do well to remember the people who showed us grace and mercy. In looking back at the people God put in my path when my husband and I were new to the faith and in need of support, I marvel at the fact that they didn’t immediately turn and run from us. There were definite risks in being associated with us. Yet, God placed within their hearts a genuine desire to help.
Doing what is right is not dependent upon whether or not our actions are received well. In fact, one of the major tenets of our faith is to obey God’s law even when it is hard, we are ridiculed for doing so, or are tired of being disappointed in our efforts. One never knows who is watching and being convicted as they observe us extending ourselves, once again, for the umpteenth time. We would do well to remember that God uses the successes and failures of our life to further His Kingdom, whether or not we experience gratification or satisfaction.
It is good to remind ourselves, on a daily basis, the words of the apostle Paul:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 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; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:1, 9–21 ESV).