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  • Writer's pictureRyan Zumpano


Satan likes to make us feel small. He likes to make us feel like the world

doesn't care about what we're doing and like the things we may accomplish

don't matter. How many times have we all been in positions where people

we look up to don't recognize the work we're doing? There are few things

that feel better than being recognized by these people, but being ignored

can have an equally as powerful effect, just in the negative sense. We are

told throughout scripture that God sees us and that He sees what we are

doing and what we are going through. Yet, it's still easy to feel small in such

a big world that often feels like it doesn't care about you. My grandfather

presented a lesson on a similar subject years ago that really stuck with me.

So, I'm going to put out my own spin on a similar topic. I want to talk about

a man who very easily could have felt this same way. I want to talk about a

man named Thaddaeus.

To the three people reading this that recognize that name, congratulations!

For the rest of us, I'll give the run-down. Thaddaeus (also known as Judas,

the son of James) was one of the Twelve Apostles. Most people who know

Thaddaeus know him as a piece of Bible trivia more than anything else. So,

how can someone as important as one of the twelve apostles be so

obscure? Well, the answer to that is rather simple. Thaddaeus is mentioned

in any comprehensive list of the twelve from the gospels and Acts (Matthew

10:3, Mark 3:18, Luke 6:16, Acts 1:13). Thaddaeus' first mention outside of

these lists is in John 14:22: "Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, "Lord, how is it

that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?"" Jesus goes on

to answer his question saying that He would be with those who love Him

and His Father.

And… that's it. That is the entire recorded history of Thaddaeus, one of the

twelve apostles. So, that poses the question, is asking that one question

the only thing of note Thaddaeus ever did? Don't get me wrong, some

people have more eventful lives than others, but I don't think anyone

believes Thaddaeus only did or said one thing of note in his entire life. After

all, he was one of twelve! He was called personally by Jesus to be one of

His disciples. He lived with, traveled with, and learned from Jesus directly

for years. He, like the rest of the apostles, was commissioned by Jesus to

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name

of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to

observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always,

to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20). He, like the apostles we read

about in the New Testament, likely founded churches and wrote

inspirational letters. He surely taught many and brought even more to

salvation. Yet, none of that made it into scripture.

So, why does Thaddaeus get so little recognition? There's no easy answer

to that. God knows what we need to know and, therefore, what needed to

be in the Bible. For whatever reason, that didn't include Thaddaeus' work.

Does that take anything away from what he was doing? Certainly not!

Saving a life or a soul is an incredible thing, no matter how many people

know about it. In God's eyes, Thaddaeus surely did incredible things. God's

purpose for Thaddaeus was just different than the one He had for Paul or

other people in that vein.

The bigger question, I would argue, is how would Thaddaeus have felt

about this lack of recognition? I suspect many of us would be very

frustrated under similar circumstances. Yet, I don't think Thaddaeus would

have seen the situation the same way. Scripture teaches us to avoid

seeking the approval of man for our actions. Jesus tells us to "Beware of

practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by

them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven"

(Matthew 6:1). I don't know about you, but I would rather have God's

reward than the approval of the people around me. Furthermore, Paul

wrote that we can't seek the approval of man and serve Christ. "For am I

now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man?

If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ"

(Galatians 1:10). This is all to drive home the point that our priority should

never be to be recognized by our peers. God is bigger than that. He sees

what we are doing, and He will reward us for it if our motivations are pure.

We should never be seeking glory for ourselves. Rather, we want to bring

glory to Christ. So, I don't think Thaddaeus would have been overly upset

about his "minor" appearance in scripture. Instead, I'm sure he found

comfort in knowing that God had a bigger reward in store for him than fame

ever could.

So, we should never be chasing recognition or fame. God has bigger things

in store for us than a pat on the back. But, this shouldn't stop us from

encouraging others for their good works. We are called to encourage each

other (1 Timothy 5:11), even to do so daily (Hebrews 3:13), and to build

each other up (Ephesians 4:29) in order to spur one another on towards

good deeds (Hebrews 10:24-25).

The next time you feel like you are going unnoticed, know that God sees

you and that He has a reward in store for you. Then, turn that energy

around and recognize and encourage others to drive them to do good. If we

all do just a little better with these things, then there will be more than

enough pats on the back to go around, and nobody will even feel like they

need them! So we should try to pay a little more attention to what people

are doing around us. When you notice good things that people are doing,

let them know! Give them a pat on the back and don't expect one in return.

God's will be way better, anyway.

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