“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” Luke 17:7-10
These days it seems that so many of us are about ourselves. Stars of stage, screen and athletics are highly demonstrative about their accomplishments as seen in fist pumping gestures, end zone dances and primal screams. This is not pointed out to be critical of emotional releases after putting in untold hours of hard work and experiencing success. It does, however, pose the question, "How much attention and credit do you want for doing what you are supposed to do?" This is not just a phenomenon associated with celebrity. Perhaps closer to home, we have all seen those who perform some kindness or provide some assistance to someone in need and then publish it widely to all who will listen.
The context of today's passage is that Jesus is teaching his disciples a lesson on forgiveness. He advises that there will be situations where people trespass against us. It is inevitable, but when those times come, our duty is to forgive and not just once but every time, even multiple times in a day. It is interesting that subsequent to this, the apostles ask for an increase in faith. This is surely because forgiving is not always an easy thing to do, particularly multiple times. It is here that Jesus supplies that forgiving is the minimum expectation of a Christian and that there should be no expectations of lavish praise and reward for doing so.
Beloved we must understand that we do not serve a quid pro quo God. We should not expect to receive every time that we give or perform. This is not to say that God does not reward but to say that God has provided so infinitely much to us, there is no amount of giving or performing that we could ever do to even approach what He does for us constantly. I remember as a boy wanting to be paid for mowing our lawn. It was explained to me in no uncertain terms that I was being provided with a roof, a climate controlled environment, food, clothing and many other amenities free of charge and that the yard was my responsibility, not a service rendered for which I should expect compensation or even thanks (though I often did). It likewise occurred to me that I didn't thank my parents for all they provided because I took it for granted and often, was too busy asking for more.
Let us never confuse voluntary service with responsibility and let us never seek recognition and praise for what we are obligated to do (Matthew 6:1-4).
Increasing in faith,