No good thing we do is ever wasted, but sometimes it feels that way. I know we shouldn't do good for rewards, but it can be difficult to understand our own motives. I recently read Peter Pan for a book club I attend, and we learned something interesting from the notorious Captain Hook.
When Hook is fighting Peter Pan on the pirate ship, his greatest concern is that he maintain "good form." The thing that makes this effort difficult is that Hook figures it's bad form to do things for the cause of good form. In order to have truly good form, one must not be aware of it; good form must come naturally.
I can identify with the old captain. Even though he's a silly character in a work of fiction, Hook represents the dilemma Christians have--that of righteousness for the sake of God and not for our own reward even while knowing that God often rewards those who trust in Him and work for Him.
On two separate occasions, I learned months or years after an event that some little thing I did was used by God to bless someone. In one case, a former classmate revealed that I had spoken a word of witness that caused him to turn from his sin and trust Jesus. In another situation, God led me--through a Bible study at church--to send a note of encouragement to a struggling young mother. I didn't hear from her and thought maybe the card had gone astray. Just the other day, a friend of hers told me she had gotten the note and was truly moved by it.
These are the best rewards--knowing that we have been an instrument of blessing in God's hands. Maybe He doesn't always let us see the results right away to help us trust Him for the outcome and not congratulate ourselves for being "good." And we may never see or understand on this earth all God is doing with and through us. I realize that in me "dwells no good thing" (Romans 7:18), but I want to be so controlled by the Spirit of God that I am speaking His thoughts and ministering His love to people I meet.
I'm thankful that even though we don't work for rewards, God is gracious enough to give us the blessing of sometimes seeing the results of His working through us.
"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9).