I’ve never liked the limelight. I’ve always considered myself a behind-the-scenes person whose “hidden work” benefited those who stood out front and received the adulation.
Well, I can always depend on God to challenge my self-perception and teach me some life lessons in the process.
I’ve been noticing that He keeps placing me among people and in situations in which I end up having to live out Matthew 6: 2-4:
“When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.”
“So how’s that working out for you?” you may well ask, tongue in cheek. Well, it’s been … interesting. The flesh is a flimsy thing, easily bruised and eager to get its moment in the sun. So the flesh vs. spirit battle has been at Code Orange, I’d say.
Beside being led by the Holy Spirit to do the right thing, there’s the constant challenge to feel and think the right thing. In a word, motive. Hidden work really places your motives under the microscope. Can I be satisfied with not getting the glory for the “good thing” that I did?
What hidden work has looked like
- Getting alone with God and letting him put a finger on my “darlings,” showing me that I need to “kill them.”
- Taking a back seat and doing menial stuff without complaining.
- Listening to others, being an ear in the body of Christ, and honoring their confidences.
- Interceding for others when nobody else knows, or even cares.
- Learning to be okay with not fitting in, being “different but not deficient.”
- Attending to others’ perceived needs without drawing attention to myself.
I won’t lie; some of this stuff bites. I’m still making peace with it. I have to believe that the lessons learned are for my good, and, by extension, for the good of others.
It’s made me think of 1 Peter 3:3-4, which is used in some denominations to browbeat women into not wearing jewelry and dressing up. Those verses, however, target what counts most in God’s economy: the heart.
Do not let your adornment be outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather, let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.
The Spirit-Filled Life Bible’s commentary on that verse notes that “the heart denotes ‘thoughts, feelings, mind, middle’ as the deepest, most inner recess of our being. A godly woman, abiding in the Holy Spirit (who Himself lives in the hidden place of our hearts) can grow to learn to trust in the insight and understanding The Lord gives her.”
Okay, Lord, so that’s what you’re doing here!
Here are my takeaways on “hidden work”:
What hidden work does for others
- It allows them to discern the God in you and creates an opportunity for praise and thanksgiving.
- It sets a fire in their spirit, stirring up introspection and causing them to call out to God.
- It becomes a source of testimony and, possibly, evangelism.
- It has a multiplier effect: go thou and do likewise.
What hidden work does for you
- It develops character and humility and causes you to extend grace and mercy, first to yourself, and then to others.
- It slows down or eliminates the “pick me” syndrome (I’m a Shrek fan, pardon the indulgence!).
- It bolsters your faith in God, matures you spiritually, and puts your flesh in its place.
- It lets you see first-hand how God can change you supernaturally as you obey His promptings.
How has God’s “hidden work” in your life changed you for the better?