How are you at taking compliments?
On a sliding scale of basking in the glory and wanting the ground to swallow you up, where would you place yourself?
This was my experience last weekend.
Lovely Person: Thank you for all your hard work this week.
Me: Well, I haven’t really done anything.
We both knew that was a load of rubbish!
The Lovely Person gave me a funny look and then, quite rightly, called me on it. I’d been working flat out on this particular project for the past nine months. We both knew I’d worked hard, we both knew it meant a lot to me, and neither of us believed it was no big deal. I walked away from the conversation feeling a bit daft in all honesty. It wasn’t a false, modesty thing. It wasn’t even a case of trying to belittle the work I had done. It was an old habit rearing its ugly head, an inability to accept that God had used me and that the Lovely Person was simply acknowledging that.
The irony is that the Lovely Person was referring to a set of Bible Studies based around Paul’s letter to the Philippians…a thank you letter! Paul’s bond with the Philippian church started when his second missionary trip took an unexpected turn, and he found himself by a lake in the middle of women’s prayer meeting. A conversation with Lydia, the Stella McCartney of her day, kickstarted the growth of a new church in Philippi and the bond between Paul and the believers there remained strong. Throughout his years of persecution, the fledging church at Philippi continued to support him practically and in prayer.
"Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears."
Philippians 1:3-6 MSG
I wonder how Lydia responded when she heard these words. Yes, she was making a financial contribution and was devoted to praying for Paul, but she wasn’t in the thick of it. She wasn’t by his side on the missionary trips or stood defending him before Festus or clambering for the shore after a shipwreck. Her contribution felt small in comparison to the groundbreaking work God was doing through Paul. And yet, Paul was confident that a “great work” was in progress and took the time to thank Lydia, and the believers at Philippi, for their part in the journey. Paul was the mouthpiece for a loving God who wanted to say, “well done” to His followers.
Sometimes challenging ourselves to seek God’s guidance about ways we can serve more is vital, but many of us struggle with a different issue. Often, we need to acknowledge that God is using us to make a difference in our own way, however big or small that may seem. If someone is prompted to thank you for something you have done in God’s name, don’t make the same mistake as me. Hear the encouraging words of your Heavenly Father, reminding you you are His and that He is continuing His work in you.