Joy in Duty
Gracious Lord, You are the Divine Potter in my life. Today is in Your hands. Teach me and lead me.
Read Luke 17:1–10
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Christianity preaches not only a crucified God, but also crucified men and women” (Brennan Manning, 1934–2013). For Christians, our ego is sacrificed (crucified) for our God.
Someone once described “ego” as “Edging God Out” and this remains stubbornly at the heart of the human condition, even when someone has experienced God’s grace-filled redemption. In verses 7–10 we have a unique Lukan parable describing the attitudes of a master to his servant or slave. On returning from working in the fields, the servant is not invited to sit and relax, but rather told to prepare the food for the master. Decency might hope that the master would thank the servant for his hard work—but the implication is that this was not likely to happen, and that the servant simply “did what servants do.”
Jesus applies this logic to the relationship between kingdom-followers and the King. He expects obedience for no other reason than it is the right thing to do. We are not to serve for praise, perks or position, but rather the joy of being able to serve the Master of our souls, the King of the universe. This unique parable fits with the flow of Jesus’ teaching on kingdom inclusion and also with his challenge to those of religious position and influence who believe their righteousness has earned them status and a place near the Master. In a later passage, we have another unique Lukan parable about the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector, praying in the Temple: one going home “justified,” the other ignored (Luke 18:9–14).
As Brennan Manning suggests, Jesus must not be the only crucified figure in Christianity. The kingdom of God demands that ego is sacrificed to the Servant-God who poured himself out for us. Though we are sons and daughters, we must also remember that “we are unworthy servants” (10), empowered to live and serve through his grace alone. When we remember this, God will never be edged out, but will always be established at the center.
Whatever the reward (or not), serving God remains the highest honor of any human being. How can you celebrate and serve?
Merciful Lord, my natural inclination is to be served, rather than to serve. Help me to embrace the reverse, and to be a faithful servant of Yours.
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