Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Would God Thank You?

In a recent debate on my "Bitter Focus" post, a commenter scoffed at my suggestion that Jesus did not thank Martha for the effort she had put forth; calling my idea speculation, despite the fact that the text does not record any hint of Jesus being appreciative of Martha's self-sacrifice.  That brought to my mind the fact that nowhere in Jesus' recorded life does He thank anyone other than God.  So that got me thinking...

Would God thank you?

I'm not talking about on Judgement Day, when God is looking back over your life, would He say "thank you for your service to Me."  I am just referring to the simple, polite, and congenial way in which you thank people for their efforts.  If you, like Martha, opened your house up for God, would you expect Him to thank you?  And I don't mean "expect" as in "God would owe it to you."  Rather, I mean do you think that it is in God's nature that He would voluntarily offer up His thanks to you in appreciation for your effort.

The knee-jerk reaction is to think "Of course God would thank you!  Don't be ridiculous!"  However, there is very little support of this idea that I remember in the Bible.  Maybe I am remembering wrong.  Please feel free to help me out if I am in error here.

I know in the Scripture that God will bless you for obedience, and you will be Saved if you believe*, but there is nothing that suggests God would actually thank you.

This is important, because that little, tiny phrase can mean so much to us; often much more than our wages.  We crave to be acknowledged personally for our efforts, beyond the impersonal blessings or compensation we may receive.

* Naturally, the debate still rages on regarding whether or not Salvation is through only belief, or if it also requires works.


  1. Interesting question. No, I wouldn't expect God to thank me. When I was a TrueBeliever I would have been honored by the thought of God, himself, being in my home. It would have been a privilege for him to be there. No need or thought of him thanking me would have entered my mind. I would consider his "blessings" upon me thanks...good health, a job, food on my table, a table, a place to put the table, on and on it would go. that would have been my thanks. Now, what of illness, or job loss, or table loss, or place to put the table loss you might ask? Oh those were only opportunities for greater blessings, of course(more thanks). All the while never acknowledging my own hard work and efforts. The were all blessings from above.

  2. I suspect the majority of Christians would think like what you've said here, D'Ma, and I probably would have said the same thing back then. But as I put my self in Martha's sandals, I realized that that may not be enough to keep my tender feelings from being chafed, depending on the circumstances (and Martha's circumstance was rougher than most would expect, effectively having her effort snubbed by Jesus).

  3. I see what you're saying. And, yes, I would have had my feelings hurt and it would have chapped my hide as well, but with Mary, not Jesus. After all the house guests left there probably would have been a pretty ugly exchange. :)

  4. Mary, you've got some 'splainin' to do! ;-)

    Beyond this incident, D'Ma, I was thinking of just regular stuff. Like if you had took it upon yourself to bake a cake or a loaf of bread for your neighbor, you might expect them to say "thank you" when you had given it to them. In the same way, if the target of your generosity was Jesus instead of your neighbors, would He extend a word of appreciation? As best as I can tell, that answer is no.

  5. Well it certainly seems that Jesus liked attention. He didn't object to Martha making a fuss over him, not even after she asked for help, really. He only basically said, "Leave Mary alone". He was eating it up that Mary was sitting at his feet intoxicated by his every word. And when Mary, or whomever she was, anointed his feet with expensive perfume seemed indignant that anyone would object. "What do you mean expensive? Don't I deserve the best? And don't I deserve to have this woman rub my feet with her hair?"

    To think, I once regarded all of this as beautiful. I think the answer is simply, no, Jesus wouldn't express any appreciation. Ha! For a cake?!? Heavens no.

  6. "And don't I deserve to have this woman rub my feet with her hair?"

    LOL! That's hilarious! :-)

  7. I don't know if Jesus ever existed. But if he did, the gospels do a poor job of describing him, as what comes across is a weird, very weird person. It's almost as if someone took bits of pieces of great wisdom and put the words in the mouth of a fictional person. Bizarre!
    If he did say this,

    "Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."

    Then he surely knew how to say thanks. But then, is saying thank you part of the Hebrew culture? That culture is so different from the North American one that I wouldn't be surprised if thank you wasn't something they said too often.

  8. "...what comes across is a weird, very weird person."
    That's the truth! :-) I think that's part of the evidence of fiction in the story. Not that there aren't strange people, but someone that weird would hardly have gotten a following.

    I bet you are right about the difference of cultures. However, there have been studies showing how verbal gratitude can mean even more than compensation. It is a little hard to tell if that is only relative to our culture or not, but, being that human egos haven't changed much in thousands of years, I think that it was probably still effective, even if it wasn't the norm. An omniscient God would know this for sure. ;-)

  9. Some passage talks about the silliness of a pot questioning the potter. Likewise, I know no potter that says "thank you" to her/his pots.

  10. Indeed, Sabio. How dare mere pots question the potter. :-)