“You scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back.” “You fly, I’ll buy.” “Quid pro quo.” “You buy this time, I’ll buy next time.” Ever used any of these expressions? Of course you have. We all do favors for favors. It’s an offer to help in exchange for help. You’ll give them what they want if they’ll give you what you want. Everybody wins. We all play the game, but what we forget is that Jesus changed the rules on it. He expects us to do for others who have no ability to pay us back.
You see, there’s no reward in doing something for others who can pay you back. It’s not really a favor if you get a return favor. Part of our Christian DNA should be to do for others who can’t pay us back. It should be a part of who we are and be a regular thing we do. When Jesus was describing who got into Heaven, this is what He said in Matthew 25-35-36, “For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you brought Me together with yourselves and welcomed and entertained and lodged Me, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me with help and ministering care, I was in prison and you came to see Me” (AMPC).
In all of these examples, it was about helping someone out who couldn’t return the favor. He went on to say that when you do something for the least among us, you’ve done it to Him. There’s no reward in helping those who can pay you back. Of course, you can still help your friends out in a quid pro quo fashion, but you can’t just do that and expect to be rewarded for doing good. You got your reward when they paid you back. The life Jesus is calling us to is doing things for those who can’t pay you back.
In Luke 14:13, Jesus said it another way. He said, “But when you give a banquet or a reception, invite the poor, the disabled, the lame, and the blind.” He mentioned several times in the Gospels that we were to give to those who couldn’t pay us back. When you think about it, Jesus did that for us. He set the example of giving at a high cost for those who couldn’t pay Him back. If you’ve accepted Him as your savior, then He paid your debt for sin in full. There’s no way to repay Him for that. The best thing we can do is to follow His example. Give to those who can’t repay you, and don’t hold it over their head.
Several years ago, a guy I worked with would get on the store intercom each morning before we opened. He would give a motivational speech with some great quotes and remind us about why we work. He would always close his speeches the same way. You could hear him take a breath and then slowly say, “Make…. today…. count.” He signed off on all of his emails with it too.
All of these years later, I don’t remember each speech he gave, but I still remember those words: make today count. I believe we are to live purposeful lives. We are to be proactive not reactive. Jesus said, “Ask and it shall be given. Seek and you shall find. Knock and it shall be opened.” These are all proactive steps that require you to act. The Bible is full of things we are to be proactive at.
A proactive person sees a need and helps. They look for ways to get involved. They don’t just want to do something for God, they do it. A reactive person responds to things that happen. They wait until there is no other choice but to act. It s not done out of willfulness, but out of obligation. As a manager, I can tell you that those who do things willfully are more successful and do better work than those who do things out of obligation.
It’s simple really. Proactive, willing people put their hearts into whatever they do. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says what my coworker used to say, “Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange for the hard work of staying alive. Make the most of each one! (MSG)” I don’t know if he knew if what he was saying came from the Bible or not, but there it is. We are commanded to make the most out of each day. They are gifts from God in which we are to be proactive and do something for others.
Colossians 3:23 in the Message also says, “Don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from your heart for your real master, for God.” God knows that if you work from your heart, what you do will cause others to be motivated to do better. Our job is not simply to do things on our own, it’s to get others motivated to do things better too. When each of us in the body of Christ start working with all of our potential and are living a life of purpose, the Kingdom of God will grow.
I know many people are going back to work today after having been off for the holidays. Don’t go back with a sour attitude. That is infectious too. That is not what you want others to catch or to think about you as a Christian. Choose to go to work with a great attitude. Choose to find someone in need today and be the hands and feet of Jesus to them. Choose to make today count.