New Apostolic Church USA


"Thoughts on Acknowledgement" from the Winter 2019 Vision Newsletter

As human beings, we desire acknowledgement. For some, having their activity acknowledged might even be considered a necessity. In many human endeavors, acknowledgement is provided through either a kind word or gesture, and sometimes even through criticism. Acknowledgement serves as feedback, helping us to know that the things we are doing matter, that our work is being done properly and effectively, and that it (and we) are appreciated.

This desire for acknowledgement reflects the circumstances and attitudes of the world around us. People expect lightning fast responses to inquiries, almost immediate delivery of goods, and instant gratification. And social media doesn’t help. Almost immediately, one can receive feedback on their thoughts, opinions, haircut, wardrobe, good deeds done—you name it. We desire acknowledgement, and we desire it quickly. It’s no surprise, then, that this attitude can all too easily carry over into the church.

Even Christ’s disciples wanted to be acknowledged. They showed this very clearly when they argued amongst themselves as to which one of them should and would be the greatest (we find that they had this argument on two different occasions in the book of Luke, actually!). Twice they argued over who was the greatest. And you remember Christ’s response: “For he who is least among you all will be great.” Christ’s response was direct, to the point, and clearly highlighted the importance of humility.

What is our motivation to serve and to sacrifice? Is our motivation humble, or is there some pride involved? Do we serve out of love for Christ and neighbor, or do we serve to be recognized and acknowledged?

In Proverbs 3:6 it says, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” There is only one who is worthy of acknowledgement, and that is the Triune God. Only He is worthy of praise and recognition. Anything that we accomplish is accomplished by His grace, and with His strength and authority. Paul speaks to this in his second letter to the Corinthians when he says, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5). Paul was an incredible servant of God, but even he realized that apart from God, he was incapable and inadequate. If there was any level of sufficiency, it was to be attributed to God. Anything that Paul was able to do, and any impact that He was able to make, could only be attributed to the power of God working in and through him. Paul reiterates something similar again in his first letter to the Corinthians: “…and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:4). Paul could have easily sought recognition and acknowledgement for his “persuasive words of wisdom,” but made the humble decision instead to acknowledge the power of the Holy Spirit working through him.

We can find some additional guidance from Paul in Romans 1:8-9: “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers.”

First, it’s important to note that Paul is thanking God for the believers and their faith; his thanks is not directed to the people themselves. Second, he refers to their faith that has served as a witness to others. In other words, their actions have served as a testimony to the gospel rather than any individual or group ‘advertising’ their faith or good works. Finally, as a way of giving thanks to these souls, Paul assures them that he prays for them constantly. In this letter to the Romans, Paul acknowledges their works, but not in a manner that honors them. He thanks God ‘through Jesus Christ.’ Jesus Christ is the Author and Finisher of God’s work of salvation, not any individual human being.

As children of the most high God, our motivation must always be love—love for God, and love for those whom He has called us to serve and to shepherd. The more we realize that God has called us, the less we will seek recognition and acknowledgement. If we come to expect these things, then we will be constantly disappointed. More often than not, the things that we do for the Lord and for His children won’t be recognized or appreciated, at least by those we serve. Many times, they go unseen and unnoticed.

There is One who does see what is done, however, and His reward and recognition is to be valued far more than any reward or recognition we could receive from anyone here on this earth. Our Heavenly Father is omniscient; He is the knower of all things. In Matthew 6:6 He is described as a Father who “sees in secret, and will reward you openly.” What a powerful and hopeinspiring thought! The Almighty One sees everything that is done in His name and to His honor and glory—even those things that are done in secret— and will someday openly reward those that have faithfully loved, served, and followed Him. And what is this great reward? Salvation through Jesus Christ!

Let’s resist the natural desire for recognition and acknowledgement, dear brothers and sisters. Rather, let us rejoice over the fact that “great is our reward in heaven.” (Matthew 5:12) It is there that our names are written. This truth, combined with our love for God and for our neighbor, compels us to fulfill our calling, and to carry out the great commission of Christ.

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