What have you done for me lately?
Not the most pleasant of phrases is it and there never is a really good answer to it either. It starts off being accusatory and when you think of an answer it’s never good enough.
There have been times that we have been tempted to say this phrase to someone else and even times when we have said this phrase, especially when we are angry.
In our frustration in life sometimes the temptation has been to say this to God or to feel like this toward God.
God what have you done for me lately?!
The biggest danger in saying that is that we wonder if God might ask us the same question right back. What have you done for me lately?
What have you done for God lately?
What would we do with that if God asked us that question?
We might rightly cringe a little bit at that one and say, “well I’m in worship today, does that count?”
We might be honest and say “not much Lord,” I’ve been too busy and I’ve had too much going on in my life.
We might try to hold up our own set of accomplishments, I’ve gone to church so many times, I’ve told this many people about Jesus, I’ve read my Bible this many times, I’ve given money to the poor and to the offering, I’ve tried to live a Christian life, I’ve done this or that in or out of the church, Lord.
But what have we done for God lately? We have to think about that one a little bit more.
Does God need us to be in worship for God’s sake? Does God need us to tell this many people about Jesus? Does God need us to read the Bible? Does God need us to give to the poor or to give to the offering? Does God need us to live a Christian life? Does God need us?
The answer is no. God does not need anything from us. There is absolutely nothing that we have done for God lately, God doesn’t need us to do anything at all for God!
Worship with a family of faith in a good Christian church home is not done for God it is for us from God. A place where God has promised to give His good blessings of forgiveness and salvation to us.
Telling other people about Jesus is not done for God’s sake, after all we did not ask God to bring our savior into the world in the first place and God did that without us even asking or knowing what to ask. No telling people about Jesus is for our sakes and our neighbors because a faith that is withheld is a faith that shrivels in on itself and your neighbor needs some Good News right about now.
Reading your Bible is for your sake so you can grow in your knowledge and understanding of the wisdom and knowledge of God, walking in the light not in the darkness.
Our neighbor needs our support just as much as many times as we need support. Living the Christian life is for our sakes to keep us from harm and to keep us on the path that leads to eternal life.
What we do in the Church is as much for our sake as for other people but not for God’s. What is done in the Church is for the teaching and growing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we need and that benefits us.
In fact none of those things are done for God at all. They are all things that are done for us through God’s Word and God’s Promises and God’s Hand. They are all done for us and for our sake, even when they are done through us they are also done for us by and because of God’s love. None of God’s blessings in God’s Words and promises and goodness comes from us at all but originates and flows out of the love of God in Christ Jesus for you and me.
We have done nothing for God lately.
God has done everything for us and God continues to do everything for us.
So how do we come before God’s presence? The only way we can, through God’s invitation, God’s power and God’s salvation in Jesus and we have nothing we are bringing in return. We are empty sinners in need of the salvation that only God can provide.
This reflects the words of the penitent tax collector cries out “I am the sinner,” I am the one who is empty with nothing, I need exchange and the giving that only God can give! I have nothing, have mercy.
(Jesus) also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
This is what it means to come into God’s house with proper reverence, it is plea of mercy that recognizes the emptiness of everything I have and have done and the abundance of the grace of God and how he fills us with all of His goodness. I and I alone am the sinner, the empty one, Lord have mercy.
The difference between the two people in the parable is severe. You have the pharisee who comes into worship improperly with filled with his own good works, dressed properly, a righteous person on the outside but even though he came in filled with his own good works he went away empty handed and not justified in the eyes of God.
The tax collector comes into worship properly, empty of all illusions of his own good works, even his dress may not be the best, quietly sobbing in the corner asking for God to make him right because of the sacrifice. That man came empty but went away filled with mercy and justified in the eyes of God.
In our own eyes we may look at the one and say that man, that is a proper worshipper of God but in God’s eyes he was not and the other we may not want to stand next to but in God’s eyes he was the one that was reverent and a proper worshipper.
But there is only one place to look, without asking what have you done for me lately or what have other people done, that is frankly none of our business. But knowing our own emptiness, look to the God who does all things to fill us.
God does everything for us.
Then only with that proper attitude look to others the way God does for us.