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Luke 17:10

Posted 01/20/22, by Dan Vis

Yesterday, I shared the story of a bicycle ride in the rain that helped me understand I shouldn't really expect the things in my life to be all that different from the things Jesus encountered in His.

Today I want to share another story, this time from Jesus, that emphasizes this point even more powerfully. Here's the punchline of the parable:

Luke 17:10
So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

Quite a thought isn't it? When we serve others, we should simply see it as "our reasonable service" (Romans 12:1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.). That it was merely our "duty to do", and that we are still "unprofitable servants". Or to put it differently, our best efforts could never measure up to the incredible price paid for our purchase. A truth if ever there was one.

To set up the parable, Jesus describes a wealthy man with servants working out in the field. When they come in after a long day's work, what is the Master more likely to do? Invite them to sit at the table and serve them a special meal? Or expect them to go prepare a nice meal for him? In Jesus day, much like ours, the obvious answer is option two. "Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow now" (Luke 17:9Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.).

I find thinking about the life of service in this way rather helpful. When we approach Christian service with a mindset filled with expectations we'll be rewarded for doing what's right, that our life will be blessed and everything will go smoothly--those expectations are almost certain to be disappointed. Leaving us confused, disgruntled, and perhaps worse.

But comparing the tiny little sacrifices we make with the incredible purchase price made to redeem us from our previous slavery to sin, so that we could work in the service of Jesus--well, there really is no comparison. How could I ever, for the life of me, think I deserve some reward for simply choosing to let Him rescue me?

It reminds me of the parable of the prodigal son, just two chapters prior. After crashing to the bitter bottom, he called to mind the servants employed by his father back home: "how many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger" (Luke 15:17And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!). So he resolved to return to his father and beg him to "make me as one of thy hired servants". Not because he was entitled to it (he was "no more worthy to be called thy son"), but simply because service under his father's was so vastly superior to the service forced on him in that country he had gone to (Luke 15:18-1918 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.).

This mindset can help keep us from going to the other extreme in the service of God as well. It reminds us we serve a loving, caring Employer with our best interest at heart. That He is reasonable and doesn't ask us to work to extremes, to destroy our health or relationships--though there may be unusual circumstances that require us to burn a little midnight oil at times. He doesn't ask us to give away everything we own to the poor--but wants to make sure we have "bread enough", and even a little "to spare". He is fair, offering (even commanding) rest when we're tired, and breaks now and then.

You can think back to the best employer you have ever worked for, and know confidently heaven's employ is better still! Not necessarily easier, just definitely more rewarding.

I try to evaluate questions about service through this filter. Nothing my Master asks of me can ever repay the incredible price He paid to bring me into His employ. And I will ever be an unprofitable servant. I don't need special rewards when faced with some difficult task. The privilege of simply being able to serve in His employ is reward enough. He generously, and consistently provides for all my real needs, and I am fully content with that.

Thinking about the Christian life in this way, helps keep our attitudes and expectations in check. And it brings joy and gratitude into whatever sacrifices we may be asked to make. Bottom line: we serve the Most High! What more could we ask?

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Posted by Dan Vis on 02/03/22
Nice connection with the concept of gratitude, and thanks for the reminder that we can use #hashtags here at FAST! I had completely forgotten... :) You are a blessing Qing.
Posted by Qing Ling on 02/03/22
This is the meaning of #gratitude. To only feel thankful to even be in the service of the Most High God. There is no sense of #entitlement, just #humbleservice.
This is what the kingdom of God is like... great blog, Dan :)
Posted by Dan Vis on 01/20/22
Hi Terri! Always a treat to see someone from Jamestown here! :) Glad this was a blessing.

You are a great illustration of the blessings that come from sacrificing for others. I appreciate the work you do!
Posted by Terri Krovoza on 01/20/22
Amen! We do serve an awesome God! Thank you for a good reminder of why we do what we do for the Lord. I like what you said, it brings joy and gratitude into whatever sacrifices we may be asked to make. We serve the Most High. what more could we ask for.

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