Just recently Melvyn Bragg narrated a documentary about the English reformer William Tyndale.
Tyndale entered the priesthood in the early sixteenth century at a time when people were rediscovering the Bible across Europe. He set out to translate the Bible into everyday English so that in his own words even a plowboy could understand. Noble as his purpose might seem now, in his day, Tyndale’s ideas were revolutionary and not only a perceived threat to the political and religious establishment, but a real threat.
He was forced to flee to mainland Europe, settling in Belgium, where eventually the authorities caught up with him and had him burnt as a heretic.
Some years later when Henry VIII decided to change his faith for marital reasons, he finally agreed to the production of an English translation of the Bible.
Myles Coverdale was given the task and the plaudits when the new translation was produced, despite the fact that he had drawn heavily on Tyndale. Tyndale’s name never was mentioned. When the Authorised Version of 1611 was produced in the next century, Tyndale’s contribution was again ignored, despite the fact that, according to the latest scholarship, about seventy-five per cent of the translation came from Tyndale’s earlier work.
Melvyn Bragg maintains that William Tyndale stands alongside Shakespeare as the person who most influenced the development of the English language. For all sorts of political and religious reasons, however, he has been almost air brushed out of history.
Some people never get the recognition they deserve. These people are found in families, workplaces, churches. They work hard without thanks, serve in secret, sacrifice without acknowledgement. Like Tyndale, they have a good cause. They have a noble purpose. However, the worth of what they are doing is seldom recognised, for whatever reason.
The pastor in me is at this point screaming “Find these people and thank them! Encourage them! Tell them that they are doing a wonderful job! Tell them to keep doing it!” And so we should. We should encourage one another. You don’t really need me to quote Hebrews to prove that we should do that.
However, now that I have got my inner pastor under control, my inner prophet has an entirely different take on this. He says something like this: “There are some things worth doing because they are worth doing, whether anyone at anytime recognises what you are doing or affirms what you are doing. You need to discover a level of dedication that exceeds the need for gratitude or encouragement.”
When we can say about our service or ministry or work, “This is worth doing – whatever”, we have touched something very powerful and very strong.
And even though we might never be recognised in this life, we will certainly be rewarded in the life to come. Tyndale was never recognised or remembered in a way that was his due, but you can rest assured, his reward is great.
Jesus said as much in Matthew 6:
3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly (Matthew 6.3-4 NKJV).
Your good work might go unnoticed now, but one day the world will know.