The Midnight Ride of Israel Bissel

Whatever you do, work with all your soul, as for the Lord and not for people, since you know that you will receive the reward of your inheritance from the Lord.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 

Colossians 3:23-24 


Paul Revere won fame for his midnight ride to warn the people the British were coming. I doubt any of us would know of Revere were it not for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who wrote a well-known poem, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.”   

You may disagree and say you would have learned this fact from history.  Think so?  Then why have you never heard of Israel Bissel?   

Paul Revere's  famous ride took him only 10 miles before he was captured by the British. Israel Bissel also rode to warn the American citizens his countrymen of the British advance.  He warned the citizens of Worchester, Massachusetts, then rode on to New Haven, Connecticut.  After that he rode to New York, and then to Philadelphia. Paul Revere rode 10 miles; Bissel rode 345 miles.  But nobody wrote a famous poem about Israel Bissel (let’s face it: not many words rhyme with “Bissel” – other than “missile,” and “thistle.”)  


You know what? We all love being like Paul Revere -- noticed and appreciated for what we do. You don’t have to be ashamed of that. If anyone tells you that enjoying appreciation is sinful pride, here’s what you do: Say: “Why, thank you. I really appreciate your insightful wisdom!”  Wait until they flash a pleased smile (they will), and then wink at them. 

Seriously, think about it: if being appreciated is a bad thing, then we should stop being polite and thanking people for things. We’re only harming them by showing our appreciation!  


Feeling appreciated is not wrongBe aware, however, that it is dangerous. A craving for recognition and appreciation has the potential to warp our motivation.  Instead of doing things out of love for Jesus and our neighbor, we can begin acting so that others will notice us and appreciate us. Not good.   

Want to know a test to find out if the desire for appreciation has bent your motives?  Ask yourself: Would I behave exactly the same way if nobody ever saw or noticed what I did?   

Here is a suggestion to monitor your motives: make a point to do one small thing every day that no one will see. No one will thank you, or appreciate your act. You did it simply for the wild joy of serving the Lord.   

The Bible encourages us to work with all our heart and soul – whether anyone notices or not – whether anyone pats us on the head or not.   

There is One who sees. And that is all that really matters. 

(copyright 2010 by Marty Kaarre)