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You don’t gain anything by being punished for some wrong you have done. But God will bless you, if you have to suffer for doing something good. 1 Peter 2:20 (CEV)

Usually when I’ve read this verse I’ve focused on the words ‘punished’ and ‘doing good’ with the idea of persecution for following Jesus, or for being honest when dishonesty would be the ‘norm’ or completely understandable.

Punishment for doing good isn’t always the physically abusive kind of punishment though and it’s not always administered by those intent on hurting us. Sometimes the suffering we endure comes at the hands of unknowing and, if we were honest, unintentional attacks. These are the attacks that don’t leave bruises or scars on the outside, but wreak havoc on the inside.

Random acts of kindness are often lauded as being some super-heroic gesture that brings us lots of joy and fulfillment. But when our acts of kindness and consideration are unnoticed it hurts. The legalist will tell you to suck it up. To look for recognition is nothing more than sinful pride. But I don’t buy that completely. While it’s true that the ‘Christ-like’ things we do should be done regardless of whether they are recognized or not, that doesn’t mean that that it’s some great heinous sin to expect that we get thanked for what we do.

One day Jesus was walking along a path and came upon ten lepers. He told them to go to the priests and show themselves to the priests. As they went they were cleansed of their leprosy! Only one of the ten returned to say thank you and that person was a much hated Samaritan. Jesus response was a very human one. He looked for the other nine!

“Wait a minute…Didn’t I heal ten men? And even though I delivered them from this deadly, stinking, socially repulsive sin, the only one who thought to say thank you was this foreigner? Where are my friends? Where are the ones who should have been first in line, my countrymen?”

It’s been over 2,000 years since that story and nothing has really changed in our human nature. Those who are closest to us are usually the ones that notice our kind actions the least. It’s often strangers that say thank you more often than our spouses, children or closest friends and that hurts!

Two lessons come to mind when I re-read this story. First of all, I want to make sure that I am appreciative of all the things, large and small that people do for me. My prayer is that no act of kindness will go unappreciated.

Secondly, from all appearances, the other nine were healed. Even though they weren’t thankful, Jesus knew that his true reward would come from his Father. The same is true for me. The kind things we do may go unnoticed on earth, but they are never forgotten in heaven.

PRAYER: Father God. There are so many times when the things I’ve done have gone unnoticed. People seem to notice my failures much more than my kindness. Empowered by your Spirit, I resolve to make sure those who are kind are recognized by me. I praise you for remembering even my most insignificant act of kindness to those around me. In Jesus name, Amen.

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