Doing Our Duty
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 17:10
Jesus told an odd parable in Luke 17 that is a head-scratcher for many readers, and isn't often used in sermons because it seems somewhat negative. He said,
What was the point of his message? He speaks as if we shouldn't approach God as our loving Father, but as the master of us as his slaves. Why?
It is likely that this parable was offered as a contrast to Jesus' many statements about a future reward that God has for those who have been obedient to him. While of course it is faith in Christ that atones for our sins and allows us to enter heaven, Christians rarely note how many times Jesus talks about a "reward" which does seem to depend on how a person has lived:
And, Jesus even says that his followers will be rewarded even in this life as well.
When a person hears this, the typical human response is "Wow - what will be my reward?" and our focus shifts to that. Indeed, some prosperity preachers spend a lot of time on all the ways God wants to bless us and make us rich, or crown us with glory when we get to heaven. But Jesus parable at the beginning of this article is about how our focus shouldn't be on the reward at all. Other rabbis of Jesus' time also said similar things:
And Paul also points out that this is our purpose:
It is wonderful that we have a loving Father that enjoys blessing us, and is planning for a future together in eternity that we can hardly imagine. But instead of being self-centered and only looking at the pleasures we will gain, we should respond out of love to the One who wants to give them to us.
©2006 Lois A. Tverberg, Ph.D., OurRabbiJesus.com. All rights
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