Tuesday, November 10, 2015

What We Were Obliged to Do

By Melanie Rigney

But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are at peace. (Wisdom 3:1-3)

I will bless the Lord at all times.  (Psalm 34:2a)

Jesus said to the Apostles: “Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’? Would he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished’? Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded? So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’” (Luke 17:7-10)

Lord, may I always be grateful for the privilege of serving You.

There’s entitlement, and then there’s hope. Which motivates you in your relationship with the Lord?

Hugues Taraval [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons.
In today’s Gospel reading from Luke 17, Jesus reminds us of our position: beloved servants of the Father, but servants nonetheless. Jesus challenges us not to pat ourselves on the back about all our good deeds in ministry but rather to be prepared always to serve the Lord as well, no matter how weary or worn we might feel.

Are we rewarded every day in large and small ways by God? It might be more accurate to say God blesses us every day in large and small ways. The quality of those day-to-day blessings isn’t determined by the size of our works. We don’t get to a certain level as we might in an online game and get a big reward of points or extra playing time.

That’s not to say our efforts aren’t noticed and appreciated by God, just as the master in the parable likely noticed the servant’s work. But after all, he or she was only doing what was commanded. And so it is with those who follow Christ. Showing our faith through love, in helping others and in worship, is what we are obliged to do. We’re not entitled to blue ribbons or big trophies from God when we serve Him well here on earth. We hope living in a manner He finds pleasing and blessing Him at all times will win us something far better after this.

Consider discussing with your prayer group or a friend why the teaching of this parable seems so different from that of the prodigal son. Which do you find more challenging?

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