Daughter: Why can’t I buy a new dress for the party next week?
Mother: You can buy a dress, but you have to use your own money.
Daughter: You always say that! You never buy me any new clothes!
Mother: Your closet doesn’t look like a scene from Sri Lanka to me. I can recall several shopping trips in the past year.
Daughter: You and dad never give me anything. All my friends drive their own cars to school. Sometimes I wonder if you really care about me at all, or if you are just waiting to get me out of the house.
Mother: Care about you? Do you realize everything we do for you? Do you know how many hours a week I spend just hauling you everywhere you want to go? Who washes your clothes and makes your meals? Who sat at all your softball games, even though you sat on the bench most of the time? Who adjusts our calendars to attend your choir performances? And where do you think the money comes from that pays for your food, your doctor bills, your cell phone and your new iPad? On second thought, forget the party until you get rid of your ungrateful spirit.
What parent cannot identify with this mother? How many times have we felt used and unappreciated? We pour our lives into our children only to be treated like cheap household help.
Have they ever thanked you for one meal? Did they even notice that you had to work overtime to pay for the trip to Disney World? Did they acknowledge the time you spent helping them with their algebra for the test the next day instead of watching the big game?
This mother is wrestling with an insidious infection to relationships: resentment. Resentment results from being injured or insulted by someone. It is the negative response to being hurt.
This devastating emotion often slithers into our souls unnoticed. We might respond in anger or sorrow initially and then “get over it” – so we think.
A close cousin to the more hostile attitude of bitterness, resentment can hide in the crevices of the soul and go undetected as it poisons us.
Paul offers the antidote to this emotional disease in Colossians 3:23-24. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
He inserts this principle after advising slaves to obey their masters with a sincerity of heart. It has immediate application to every employee, especially those who feel undervalued or mistreated by their employer. The employee can avoid the cancerous growth of resentment if he recognizes a higher boss.
If you believe God approves of or called you to your employment, then you are really working for him. Your employer may not fairly compensate you or properly commend you for your efforts, but Jesus will reward you in the end. Nothing you do escapes his just and honest eye.
The principle applies in every relationship we have. We often get our feelings hurt when we do something for another person that does not receive the response we expect or deserve. We should consider that act of kindness or generosity was done for Christ, to bring him glory by displaying his love for and in us. He saw it. He also saw our motives. And he will respond to it properly.
Most parents do not bear children to win their praise.
Parents do not normally invest in their children for personal satisfaction. Love usually dictates their actions. This love does not demand anything in return, because it is given for the benefit of the child only.
Nonetheless, those acts of love deserve recognition. They are worthy of commendation. Oftentimes children grow up and become parents themselves. Then one day, changing the diapers of a screaming child while the toddler is demanding attention, a light goes on. The appropriate feelings of gratitude prompt a card or phone call.
If that response never comes, a parent never need suffer the crippling effects of resentment. Whatever you do as a parent, do it for the Lord. He is the one who gave your children to you (Ps. 127:3) and he is the one who empowers you to train them (Deut. 6:6-7; Eph. 6:4).
He will never ignore you or forget you or disappoint you. He notices and appreciates every act of love that you give to your children.
Your faithfulness brings great glory to him. And you will be rewarded.