And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life” Luke 9:22.
What happens when we receive the opposite of what we expected for our giving? What happens when we are met with rejection or even unappreciation? I have experienced these unexpected reactions before. I remember one occasion I was eating at a local restaurant and saw an elderly woman sitting alone. I considered her possible loneliness and felt prompted to ask her if she would like some company. As I approached her table and offered to sit, rather than the warm smile of gratitude I was expecting, I received a cold stare and a harsh, “No.” Confused and feeling rejected, I returned to my table questioning, “Did I hear you correctly, Lord?”
Another time I recall feeling prompted by the Lord to give to a homeless man outside of a pizza restaurant. He was seated on the sidewalk, shivering, head down between his knees. A row of cars lined the parking lot, waiting for their turn in the drive-through. I pulled into a parking space, walked to the cashier, and ordered a pizza for my family and a pizza for the man on the other side of the window. Warm box in hand, I approached him, extending my hands with the love offering I felt led to give him. He raised his head and his hands, only to grab the pizza and throw it to the ground. Confused and feeling unappreciated I returned to my car questioning, “Did I hear you correctly, Lord?”
While the positive responses to my love offerings far outweigh the negative responses I have received over the years, I still question why God would lead me to give with the possibility of being rejected and unappreciated. But I’m reminded the response we receive is only a part of the equation. It is the portion we cannot control. Our obedience is the part of the equation we can control.
Jesus also experienced His love offering being unappreciated. In Luke 17, we read about Jesus meeting 10 men who had leprosy. They called out to Him, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When Jesus saw them, He told them to show themselves to the priests. As they went they were cleansed. One of them came back praising God for his healing. But Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?” (Luke 17:15)
It is hard to believe only one of the 10 men Jesus healed came back to thank Him. Certainly, the other nine men noticed they were healed, but they did not take the time to return with gratitude. Jesus did not withhold healing from the nine who did not thank Him, but He noticed their lack of gratefulness and expressed disappointment they had not thought to give praise to God for their healing.
The story of Jesus healing the 10 lepers appears immediately after a teaching conversation Jesus has with His disciples after one asked Him to “increase our faith.” In this conversation, Jesus indicates obedience to God is not something extra we do to receive His thanks and rewards. Rather, it is our duty to serve Him, just like it is a servant’s duty to serve his master.
Our pride sometimes twists this truth and tells us we should expect God to thank us for all we do to serve Him. But Jesus teaches that true faith is total dependence on God and readiness to unselfishly do His will. God is the one deserving of gratitude because of the grace and mercy He freely gives to all who do not deserve it. He is the source of every good thing we receive and enjoy, and yet how little of it is appreciated on a daily basis?
Jesus can empathize with our rejection as well. He too was rejected. He was betrayed by Judas, one of His own disciples (Matthew 26:47). He was disowned by Peter, another of His disciples (Matthew 26:70). His brothers did not believe in Him (John 7:5). The Roman soldiers stripped Him, set a crown of thorns on His head, and mocked Him (Matthew 27:28). Even the Jews, the very people He came to save, rejected Him as the Son of God and nailed Him to a cross (Matthew 27:50).
If anyone can relate to love offerings being rejected, it is Jesus. But time after time, He continues to forgive, to extend grace, and to love — so much so He rose from the dead (Matthew 28:5) and sent the Holy Spirit to love and guide us until we meet Him in heaven for all of eternity. Despite all the ungratefulness and rejection, He still continues to give us His love. How many times have we had the wrong motives, been unappreciative, and even rejected the greatest love offering of all time? How many times do we expect God to serve us when we are to serve Him?
God never wastes our frustrating situations. Instead He uses them to stretch us and search our hearts. A believer who continually loves and serves, even the ungrateful, can positively affect the kingdom of God. We have no idea the impact our love offerings can make in the long term, even if they are rejected or unappreciated in the short term.
Call to Action
Rachael Adams is a writer, speaker, podcaster, and founder of The Love Offering. Her heart’s desire is to encourage women to realize their God given purpose and to embolden them to move into the world through compassionate action. Rachael and her husband live in Kentucky with their two children. Connect with her at www.rachaelkadams.com or on Facebook and Instagram @rachaeladamsauthor.