The Bible calls us “servants” or “slaves” of Jesus. Slave has become a negative word in contemporary American society and rightly so after the sin of slavery in America’s past that was based on race and force rather than punishment for a crime or in the case of following Jesus, willing servitude. Yet the Bible, particularly the New Testament, describes how our attitude should be when obeying Jesus in this manner. One of my favorite examples of this is found in Luke 17:7-10. In this parable, Jesus demonstrates how we are to be good stewards in the Kingdom of God when serving our Lord Jesus. “Suppose one of you has a servant [slave] who has been plowing the ground or caring for the sheep. When the servant comes in from working in the field, would you say, ‘Come in and ·sit down to eat [recline; the posture for a banquet or formal meal]’? No, ·you [he] would say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat. Then get yourself ready [or put on your apron; gird yourself] and serve [wait on] me. After I finish eating and drinking, you can eat and drink.’ The servant does not get any special thanks [Does he thank the servant…?] for doing what his master commanded. It is the same with you. When you have done everything you are told to do, you should say, ‘We are ·unworthy [undeserving; worthless] servants; we have only done the work we should do [our duty; our obligation]’” (Expanded Bible).
Plowing the ground and caring for sheep is far from easy work. Yet what is the reward for this servant who has spent all day working so hard doing what his master commanded? Does he get to come in and relax. No, his day is just beginning. He still has to serve his master’s meal before he can sit down and eat. He gets no special thanks or praise because the servant just did what was expected of him. That should be our attitude. We should do everything that God expects of us at all times, but how many of us really do that? Then when we have done that, rather than thinking we should get some big pat on the back, we should have the humility to realize that we are just fulfilling what we are called to do.
Again, this may seem a little harsh given the attitude most Americans have when it comes to “our rights” or “what we deserve.” But when we really stop to think about it, what do we deserve? All of us deserve Hell, judgment, eternal condemnation for the evil deeds we have done. It is by God’s gracious mercy and lovingkindness that we are even offered Heaven and eternal life, not by any supposed good works we have done. This sense of entitlement a lot of us have even after we have worked hard does not come from the Word of God. it comes from the world’s standards and expectations. The Apostle Paul all but said the same thing in Romans 12:1. “So [Therefore] brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy, I beg [urge; appeal to] you to offer your lives [selves; bodies] as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be only for God [holy] and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual [or authentic; true; or appropriate; fitting; or rational; reasonable] way for you to worship” (Expanded Bible). Giving one’s whole life and body in service to God is merely a reasonable, rational service given the mercy He has bestowed on us.
Now just because I say we should not expect any rewards based on our own goodness, does that mean we will not get any? Of course not, because the Bible makes it clear in several different places that believers will receive rewards or loss of rewards based on what we do for God in this life. ““Don’t store treasures for yourselves here on earth where moths and rust will destroy them and thieves can break in and steal them. But store your [for yourselves] treasures in heaven where they cannot be destroyed by moths or rust and where thieves cannot break in and steal them. Your heart will be where your treasure is” (Matthew 6:19-21 Expanded Bible). “Behold, I (Jesus) am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to each one according to the merit of his deeds (earthly works, faithfulness)” (Revelation 22:12 Amplified Bible). “[For] God is fair [L not unjust]; he will not forget the work you did and the love you showed for him [ in his name] by helping[serving] his people [holy people; saints]. And he will remember that you are still helping [serving] them” (Hebrews 6:10 Expanded Bible). “The foundation that has already been laid is Jesus Christ, and no one can lay down any other foundation. But if people [anyone; someone] build on that foundation, using gold, silver, jewels [precious stones], wood, grass [or hay], or straw, their work will be clearly seen [or shown for what it is], because the day of judgment [day] will make it visible [clear; obvious]. That day will appear [or reveal it; expose it] with fire, and the fire will test everyone’s work to show what sort of work it was. If the building that has been put on the foundation [work] still stands, the builder will get a reward [or wages] But if the building [work] is burned up, the builder will suffer loss [or be fined; or be punished]. The builder will be saved, but it will be as one who escaped from a fire [ through fire]” (1 Corinthians 3:11-15 Expanded Bible). “So each of us will have to answer [give an account of ourselves] to God” (Romans 14:12 Expanded Bible). The point is to realize that our attitude about the rewards believers will get from God should be one of even greater awe, amazement, and thankfulness rather than thinking we deserve anything or are entitled to it,