“Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’” (Lk. 17:9-10)
Whatever happened to casting our burden upon the Lord? To the Lord knowing every hair on our heads? To being chosen and befriended by Jesus?
Nothing happened to any of those words of comfort and compassion. Jesus, however, in today’s words, makes it clear that following Him isn’t simply about comfort and compassion—it’s also about duty and obedience.
The point Jesus is making in today’s scripture is that we need to be obedient to God without looking for rewards. Doing our duty because it’s the right thing to do can keep us from thinking God owes us something for being faithful, and it can also keep us from feeling resentment when things don’t go our way.
Jesus says today’s bracing words because He doesn’t want the disciples to act like some of the Pharisees, who followed the rules of religion not for duty and obedience, but for advancement and adulation, for rewards and recognition.
When Jesus said these words to the disciples, I imagine they felt sobered. When we hear these words, we may feel the same.
Have you ever, like me, expected God to reward you for being faithful? Ever, like me, been upset with God when you didn’t get what you expected to receive? Ever, like me, hoped that doing the “Lord’s work” would earn you a little extra reward?
This message about duty and obedience may not be very popular, but how could we think that our life with Jesus wouldn’t include them? The Christian life is about following Jesus, who was obedient to God by doing His duty for us.
If we did our duty towards our spouse while always expecting a reward, how well would that go? If we did our duty towards our children while always expecting adulation, we might be waiting a long time.
In today’s scripture, Jesus is encouraging us to do our duty for the important people and commitments in our lives because it’s the right thing to do. Why should we think that our relationship with God would be any different?
- How do you respond to today’s message about duty and obedience?
- How would you describe your duty and obedience to God?
- How do you live out and honor your duties to those who most matter to you and your obedience to your vows and responsibilities?