Occasionally, the news will tell us of someone who did something unusually generous or kind. Maybe an inauspicious member of the community left some sizable savings as an inheritance, to be divided up among other community members or to a charitable cause. Perhaps a shopper offered to pay for a stranger’s bill, before finding out that they had just helped a celebrity. (I’m not sure why it matters that the recipient was a celebrity, since good deeds are not weighed by fame, but at least this situation provides some publicity to those who are generous.)
However, there are many good deeds that will never be known to the masses in popular culture. Even if we count a simple “thank you” on social media as someone getting credit for their positive efforts, I suspect that hidden acts of service outnumber the public ones by a huge factor.
Consider the following verse from the book of 1 Timothy:
In the same way, the good deeds of some people are obvious. And the good deeds done in secret will someday come to light.
1 Timothy 5:25 NLT
It’s usually pretty easy to think of people in the first category. We hear about them in news feeds (providing the occasional break from bad news), or in the testimonies of those who were blessed by others. Sometimes, a person’s good deeds are reflected in their name being on a building1.
Can we think of those in the second category, though? Are there people in your church, community, or circle who quietly prepare, provide, and pick up for others? Do you know caregivers who have given up their own interests to ensure the well-being of loved ones?
If so, I encourage you to remind them of this verse. Let them know that their work is not hidden from God, and that He has allowed you to notice and appreciate their service as well. While some of these people are happy to remain anonymous to the rest of the world, you may want to ask them for permission to shine some more light on their actions. If they agree, you can share the news of their good deeds with others around you. When appropriate (i.e., don’t expose someone ministering in a country where Christianity is illegal), this can bring glory to God, credit to those who have been doing good in secret, and a chance to inspire others to live up to the standards that Jesus set.
And, I suspect that some of you readers feel like you are on the other side of this situation: You work for Jesus, serving others and praying for them, but you don’t expect to ever be on the news (or even mentioned in a sermon) for your efforts. It might be the kind of work that you do, or it might be a personality trait to stay low-profile and act in the background. Maybe you intentionally keep your good works anonymous, in order to fight against pride and to give the credit to Jesus.
If you are indeed one of Jesus’ “secret servants” to the world, that’s great! I’m proud of you, and I’m confident that He appreciates your work, too. If you get worn down, though, and tired of working without receiving the appreciation that others seem to get (often for doing the same things as you), I hope that you will be encouraged by this verse.
It may feel like your service to others in Jesus’ name is not recognized, but God knows what you do, and – if we think about it – His recognition will far exceed even the greatest accolades that we can imagine from other people. Please accept my thanks, as a short-term token of appreciation for your work to the glory of God, with the expectation that my gratitude will be far overshadowed by your joy when you experience God’s favor for eternity.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
- I wonder what would happen if a philanthropic donor gave money for a new school, hospital building, or community center, and insisted that it be prominently named the “Jesus Loves You” building, or something like that? ↩