Lately I have been hearing a sweet little (almost 2 year old) voice telling me “Good job, mama!” Yesterday it was because I made a peanut butter sandwich. On previous occasions she has expressed her approval when I am getting the baby dressed, sweeping the floor, or zipping a jacket.
I am thankful that my children recognize and appreciate the work I do on a daily basis. I want them to develop thankful hearts and to recognize that all good things come from the Lord. It is exciting to see God at work, even in the hearts of the little ones!
But, her sweet encouragement challenges me to examine my heart and what motivates me to do the daily tasks required to keep this home running. Deep down (or maybe closer to the surface than I care to admit), I know that there are times I want people to notice that I’m doing a good job and it makes me happy that my toddler congratulates me on making a peanut butter sandwich – as if a 2 year old’s approval should really be a motivating factor!
I believe God created us with a desire for approval and affirmation, so that He could be the one to fill that empty space. Sure, a word of encouragement or sincere thankfulness from my children or husband can give me a much appreciated boost, but what about the days when everyone complains and no one says, “thank you”? What drives me to do anything for anyone other than myself? Do I just plaster a smile on my face and pretend to be happy, or can I have real joy in the midst of the bad attitudes and mountains of laundry?
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him… Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as the reward.” (Col 3:17, 23-24) I am working for the Lord. Please understand an important contrast here: We do not work, so that God will love us. We work out of gratefulness because God loves us.
I have known these verses for as long as I can remember, but they often become buried beneath the never-ending to-do list running through my head as I mindlessly go from one task to another just trying to keep up.
I wonder how different my days would be if I truly did everything for the glory of God? Making peanut butter sandwiches and loving my children to the glory of God, and thanking Him for His grace that enables us all to live another day with more than what we need. That’s an easy one. But what about asking my 3-yr-old to stop whining for what seems like the hundredth time today…to the glory of God? What about cleaning up another potty accident to the glory of God?
I know that it is possible, by the power of God’s Spirit living in me, but that doesn’t make it easy. Look back in the beginning of Colossians 3. Paul encourages the Colossian church to “seek the things that are above” and “set [their] minds on that are things above, not things that are on the earth”. He encourages them to put off their sinful behaviors and put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, and love. He exhorts them,”let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” and “be thankful” and “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…with thankfulness in your heart”. A heart filled with the word of God overflows with gratitude, resulting in peace that overcomes the trials of each day.