They say that when you sneeze, you should listen to see how many people bless you to know how many friends you have. Well when our oldest daughter Amanda was a toddler, she took the blessing after a sneeze quite seriously. Whenever she would sneeze, if no one responded, she would pipe up, “I SNEEZED!!”. It was an announcement that EVERYONE had to hear and it was always followed by a chorus of “bless yous” and a satisfied baby girl.
We aren’t all that different from Amanda. Only our “sneezing” comes in the form of works. We often look for approval, acceptance, and even a pat on the back for the good that we do or have done. We can say the right things when we are recognized but inside we feel a satisfaction that we have been noticed for all that we do. When we join with a group of people to accomplish a large task and everyone is mentioned in the thank you, everyone that is except you, we feel like we have gotten the shaft. We begin to feel unimportant and worthless.
What we need to do in times like those is to remember that we each have a purpose and that God sees us when no one else does. It’s not very fulfilling now, but our reward lies in Heaven where Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us.
In Matthew 6 Jesus instructs us on the issues of giving, praying, fasting, what we treasure, and worrying.
“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (v.1)
“… when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.” (v. 5)
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.” (v. 16)
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…” (v. 19-20)
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” (v. 25)
The scriptures speak for themselves. If we seek a reward here on earth, our reward here is all we get. We should do things, not to be seen by others, but so that others will see our awesome God. That through us His name would be glorified! In return, God promises to reward us in heaven. Is it something that we can see now? No. It’s not like the fund raiser pamphlet that you get every year from the school with the prizes pictured on it. God knows that if we had the knowledge of what our specific rewards would be, our sinful selves would begin to boast about what WE have accomplished. Our lives would no longer be about faith, and it would be all about works.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
God knows that if we think that we can earn ANYTHING that we become boastful even to the point of looking right past Him!
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)
Every day when we wake up, we have a choice… to live for God or… to live for ourselves. God has our best interest in mind. When we live for Him, He gives us a joy and peace that passes all understanding. Look around you! EVERYWHERE there are people looking for those very things! They spend endless hours searching, longing, seeking… and they are sadly disappointed at every turn. We have the answer! We have the one thing that can fill them and satisfy their souls! But… we have to be willing to be His vessel. To be used BY Him, to GLORIFY His name and see others come to know the King of kings, and Lord of lords! It all starts with seeking to please God and let the temporary praises of man pass us by.
So the next time you “sneeze”, stop and think… will you be looking for the blessings of man or the blessings of God? Will you introduce the world to Him today?
“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both…” (Matt. 6:24)
[Suggested Reading: Matthew 6]