Monday, October 5,2020
I remember a Seinfeld show on TV that aired on September 29, 1994. In this episode, George becomes irritated when he doesn’t receive thanks for buying Elaine a salad. At Elaine’s request, George purchases a “big salad” to go for her from Monk’s. George’s girlfriend Julie hands Elaine the salad in Jerry’s apartment, and Elaine thanks her. George is displeased that Julie took the credit for the salad, and tells Elaine that he bought it. Elaine is irritated at George for making a point of such a trivial matter, and briefly vents to Julie about this. Julie is so irate that George told Elaine she didn’t buy the salad that she breaks up with him.
We have a basic need for recognition. We want to be affirmed for what we have done. It is hard to not get credit for doing something meaningful for another person.
The brothers of Jesus must have understood this human need for attention when they attempted to push Jesus into going public with His works. As the Feast of Booths arrived, the brothers told Jesus to go up to Jerusalem for the celebration. That way more and more people would get to see for themselves whether or not Jesus was the real deal. Their request was born in unbelief, but it was based on what they thought was a shared human condition. They believed Jesus wanted to show Himself.
John 7:4 “For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.”
The brothers’ premise was that Jesus wanted to be known openly. They believed that Jesus wanted recognition and acclaim. They believed that the motive of our Lord’s heart was to make Himself look good in people’s eyes.
They were wrong. Jesus Christ, the eternal Holy One of God, did nothing for self-advancement. Jesus came to serve, not to be served, and to give His life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)
What about us? How many expressions of kindness are motivated by the need for recognition? Do we use niceness to gratify the need for affirmation? Do we determine the size of the gift based on the size of the thank-you we hope to receive?
Carefully consider the words of Jesus when He said, “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:2-4