I Have Only Done My Duty
Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat?’ Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink?’ Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ Luke 17:7-10
I’m always amazed when I read the Gospels. Every time I read these familiar accounts of Jesus’ life, I’m blown away by something new. Oftentimes the message is comforting, exciting or helpful, but lately my reading has been convicting.
It’s always been a struggle of mine to stay out of the spotlight. For most people the thought of speaking to a crowd is terrifying; in fact, it is the number one fear of humans, but I love it. I enjoy being upfront. I like being noticed and I desire recognition. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember. My family will often share stories about my childhood self putting on a play, improvising a scene, or singing songs; all for the sheer pleasure of having an audience applaud. Unfortunately, this desire for recognition has often come in conflict with my faith.
In this passage, Jesus is having a private conversation with His disciples. He is lovingly teaching them how to combat pride and what our attitude should be towards service. I can see myself sitting with the disciples mouth open in disbelief as Jesus teaches what our response to service should be, or rather what it must be. To do this, He uses a simple analogy of a servant and a master. He reminds us how silly it would be for a servant to come in from a hard day’s work and expect his master to tell him to put up his feet, relax and have a bite to eat. In reality, the master will provide his servant with another job, and the servant’s response should be, ‘Of course, let it be so, this is my job.’
This is to be our response too. Jesus is our master, we are His servants and this is a great honour and privilege, but often times we come before God ready to serve, volunteer and expect to be patted on our backs. We expect God to say, ‘Wow, you are amazing, way to go! I’m so glad you read your Bible, or handed out a card, thanks for visiting the poor.’ We treat serving God and others as something extra, as a bonus, when actually it is our duty and responsibility.
When the servant comes home from plowing the fields, he prepares a meal for his master. As Christians, our work is never done. There is always more we can do to serve those around us, to serve our God, to bless the community, and to honour the church. There is always work for us to do and it is our privilege and our duty. Our desire for recognition and accolades can get in the way of doing our duty. When we crave praise and admiration, we get frustrated and forget why we’re serving in the first place. The master we serve is incredible beyond words! Jesus is amazing and what He did for us is greater than anything I could ever do for Him.
We serve out of gratitude for what He has done for us. We serve because compared to what He did for us, it’s minuscule and unworthy of praise. We serve out of a heart of gratefulness and duty, because our Saviour is the greatest Master and it is our privilege to be serving Him.
One day Jesus will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” (Matthew 25:21). He sees us and the work that we do, and it does not go unnoticed by Him. However, until that day when we are face-to-face with Him, we need to remind ourselves that serving others and serving God is our great honour and duty.
Let us respond to that privilege by:
- Praising Jesus daily for the work that He has done in your life; and,
- Repent and remind your heart of the true reason you serve.