“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” (Luke 17:7-10)
See these are the passages of scripture that become a bit unpopular. People like to be recognized for what they do. No one thinks of themselves as unworthy servants. Not until they really screw up. But Jesus isn’t saying you are an unworthy servant because you were caught with your pants down, but even the best work you do isn’t worthy of any special recognition. And of course that is why we are always tempted to do something extraordinary. We want recognition for what we have done for the Lord.
I suppose there is a sense in which Christians, the servants, need to encourage one another in what we do. So it is right to praise kids in the church who volunteer for this and that. It is right to say thank you for the people who help keep the church running smoothly and donate a bit of extra time and so forth. This is all right and good.
But we ought not to let ourselves get puffed up and think that we have done something that makes us better than others, or heaven forbid our Lord. He is the one who died on the cross for our sins. He is the one that purchased us with his holy precious blood and innocent suffering and death. He is actually the one who has done it all for us, who has made it possible for us to serve him in any way.
And more than that, it is his death and resurrection that make it so our work on this earth is service to him. I suppose that is the thing. Even when we take a vacation to be with family we are doing his work, the work he has given us. No, it doesn’t need to be a supposed missionary trip to be work for him. You don’t have to take your vacation time to go to Africa and hand out chick tracks or build outhouses, in order for your time to be valued. Your trip to the beach with the kids might actually be of more worth. They are the ones God has given you to care for. But hey, if you want to go on a boondoggle, take me. Just don’t expect the Lord on the last day to expect you are a more worthy servant. Because in the end, it isn’t you who are serving the Lord, so much as it is the Lord who has served us.