Luke 17:7-10 - (Jesus said) "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'? Will 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'? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'"
Sometimes I daydream in church. Usually this happens when the pastor leading the prayers sounds like he's completely forgotten who he is talking to. Instead, he starts talking to the congregation, and the prayer turns into a sermon or (God forbid!) a political aside. At moments like these, I imagine God's voice booming out: "Yes, and you were saying ...?" I suspect the pastor would have a heart attack.
But it isn't just pastors who make the mistake of forgetting their place before God. How often do I catch myself thinking something not fit to be said in prayer? For example, suppose I've just done a good deed—I've helped at the food pantry, tutored a child, or given money to a charity. Right away a tiny voice comes up in my mind, saying, "Wow! What a great person I am. God must be really pleased with me." I know better than that, of course, so immediately I squash the thought—and another one pops up. "Wow! What a spiritual person I am, to be so humble." On a bad day, this can just keep going until I give it up and laugh at myself.
Jesus speaks to that silly sense of superiority we have. He says, "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'?" Of course not. A servant is supposed to serve. It is not the master's job to wait on the servant at dinner time. Even if the servant has already had a full day's work, and done it well—that's what he's supposed to do. He doesn't expect his master to suddenly switch roles with him!
Jesus recommends us to remember—to remember who we are, and what we are. And what is that? In the words of the liturgy, we are "poor miserable sinners." (Imagine the shock if God's voice suddenly said, "That's right!" just at that point in the service.) We are creatures. We are people, much loved by God—but we are not God.
Jesus is right. "We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty." And often we have done much, much less than was our duty. We have reason to be humble.
But we also have reason to be joyful—because we have a Master who is not like other masters. We have a Master who came to be a Servant, who came to serve His servants, rescuing us from the power of evil through His own life, death, and resurrection. We have a Master who has adopted us—who has made us to become children of God.
This is not our due. This is not what we deserve. But it is what we have, because "the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).
So now we have a dual role. Because we love Jesus, we are His willing servants. Because He loves us, we are children of God, adopted forever. Thank You, Lord!
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank You for serving us, Your servants. Please continue to serve others through us. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Do you imagine God being pleased with some of the more honorable things you do? What does that picture look like in your head?
2. Being satisfied with ourselves over a job well done is a good thing, but even in something good pride can creep in. How do you combat pride in your life?
3. How does Jesus' example of being the Master who serves inspire you when you think you're not being appreciated enough?
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