“When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep, does his master say, ‘Come in and eat with me’? No, he says, ‘Prepare my meal, put on your apron, and serve me while I eat. Then you can eat later.’ And does the master thank the servant for doing what he was told to do? Of course not. In the same way, when you obey me you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty.’”
– Luke 17:7-10
We’re used to being rewarded for doing what we’re supposed to do. At work, for example, we get compensated for doing our jobs, and we get incentives for going beyond the call of duty. We expect recognition for our hard work, and we often expect a ‘pat on the back’ when that hard work is complete. This is how our society works.
This isn’t, however, how it works when it comes to following Christ.
God, unlike our employers or other beneficiaries of our efforts, doesn’t OWE us anything in return for our service. Why not? From Him sustaining every aspect of our existence to the sacrifice of His Son for our salvation, it’s safe to say that we are hopelessly indebted to Him.
What could we possibly do for God that would put Him in the ‘red’ with us? Pray? Give 10% of our income? Give a homeless man a sandwich? Try not to sin as much? All of those things and more are merely the duty of those who follow Christ. We could never go beyond the call of duty in serving God; at best, we fall short (Romans 3:23).
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
– Romans 3:23
Now, if you always fell short of your duties at your 9-to-5 jobs, what could you expect? A pay cut? A ‘write-up’? Termination? …Absolutely. With God, however, you get grace and mercy… unmerited favor in the form of protection, provision, and other innumerable blessings that you simply do not deserve. He’s just an awesome God, and our service to Him – whatever we can manage in the midst of our imperfections – is the least we can do as we live a life of gratitude for Him.