Luke 17:7-10 – 7“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? 8Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”
Jesus, in this illustrative teaching, reveals for us the natural heart of man and the proper Christian alternative. He does so by describing a situation that could well have been common in those days, and connecting it to a bigger principle. The servant, in this passage, is typical of servants in those days. Such servants were apparently expected to do their day’s work, and to continue in their role as servants when they returned to the house. No servant would have expected to be treated as anything other than a servant by his master, and no servant would have expected to receive special thanks from his master for doing what was his job.
In our lives, we often do exactly the opposite of what Jesus teaches here. When we are not careful, we can find ourselves thinking that God owes us special treatment, favors, or blessings because of our service to him. We sometimes think that, if we obey the commands of God, he ought to give us something extra special. We sometimes think that, if we refuse to fall into some particular temptation, we deserve a treat.
The problem with our thinking, when we do what I just mentioned, is that obedience to God is our duty, it is not special service. There is nothing that any of us can give to God, not even our very lives, that can put God the least bit in our debt. Even if we live a life of complete devotion, suffer the greatest of hardships, and sacrifice our bodies as martyrs, we only do what servants are supposed to do for their Master. We can never, not ever, earn any ounce of favor from God. Any favor we receive from God is unearned, unmerited favor—grace.
Let us learn to respond to God rightly, as servants to a Master. Let us no longer think that our good behavior should buy us favors from God. Let us not think that obeying God’s commands, which is in fact our delightful duty as his followers, should prompt him to give us the trinkets or comforts after which the world so eagerly seeks. Instead, let us recognize that we are unworthy servants, who after giving our all, still have not given even 1% of what God deserves from us. Let us remember that we have been forgiven an infinite debt, and we could never do enough good for an eternity to ever repay it. Let us live under God’s grace, and love that he allows us the privilege of being his followers.
Dear Lord, I acknowledge here and now that I am your unworthy servant. I have never done a thing to earn your favor, nor could I ever do so. I ask that you will remind me again and again of the grace that you have given to me in Christ. Let me serve you, not so that I can earn blessings and rewards, but out of simple love for you. Yes, I know that you will reward my obedience, but such a reward is not my due. Any reward you give me is grace upon grace, and so I thank you for your amazing grace.