“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
*I’m raising my hand* I’m guilty of expecting appreciation for what I do. A simple word of thanks goes a long way with me. Yes, I want to hear a “thank you.” Yes, it would be nice if reciprocal giving was sprinkled throughout a relationship (even an employer/employee relationship). One of my struggles has been to not be so stingy with myself to seemingly ungrateful people. But it’s hard. It’s like a law of nature: someone smiles at you, you smile back; someone greets you, you greet them back; someone does something for you, you show gratitude. So it’s hard to hear that I should consider all the work that I do as my duty – what I’m expected to do, therefore unworthy of thanks. Ouch!!
In my mind, if my actions don’t illicit responses, then I haven’t made an impression – so I begin to think I am better off saving my energy for someone who will reciprocate in some form.
However, Jesus’s instruction in Luke 17:10 is that we should just do as we are instructed with no expectation of gratitude because it is our duty as the Lord’s servant to do His will.
Still difficult to hear.
I’m trying to imagine giving my all day in and day out with no acknowledgement of my effort at all. Sounds like a dark place. It’s a selfless place, to be sure. A necessary place for a humble servant in committed service to their Lord.
It is important to know that yes, as individuals, we need to be grateful, but as servants we need to be humble. A humble servant is lowly in self-estimation. There is no pride or ego that needs the flattery of gratitude. Humbleness is modesty, but it’s not weakness. A great deal of strength is required to completely set your self aside in service to another.
- something that one is expected or required to do by moral or legal obligation.
- the binding or obligatory force of something that is morally or legally right; moral or legal obligation.
- an action or task required by a person’s position or occupation; function
Believers are expected to serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13). We have an obligation to our Lord to mimic His selflessness. We are required to do for one another, to help and support each other, to fill in the gaps in each other’s daily lives. What my brother or sister in Christ can’t do by themselves, they can perhaps accomplish with my assistance. I am then duty-bound to offer and to serve. Look to Jesus as the primary example for that thought train. We couldn’t achieve forgiveness for our sin alone, but Jesus was able to do it for us. He came to serve. He humbled Himself for our benefit and became the first of God’s great harvest (1 Corinthians 15:20).
When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” ~ Mark 10:41-45
I have not found a statement of gratitude from God for Jesus’s service or sacrifice. Jesus performed His duty. However, at the outset of His ministry, He was validated by God’s voice from Heaven saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)
It I important to realize that when God has set you on a path of service, you have already been validated – simply by His selection. You need to know that He loves you and is pleased with you even before you perform, because nothing you do will earn worldly accolades from the God who is greater than the world. And we are in service to God in all we do.