“Does he [the master] 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 17:9-10
I’ve been using a reading plan to go through the Bible every day, but sometimes a passage in my reading strikes me so hard, I’m forced to sit and meditate on it for a couple days. This is one of them. The overwhelming attitude of our culture seems to expect more reward and payback for less work and investment than ever. I constantly encounter people who don’t want to do any work, yet they somehow want to obtain all the money, respect, food, relationships, and kudos they want. It’s baffling.
What makes even less sense to me than physical laziness is emotional or relational laziness. People act like it’s their right to be trusted even when they never follow through on their word. People act like it’s their right to be forgiven without ever owning or even acknowledging their mistakes, much making up for them. People act like it’s their right to be respected without them ever actually being respectable. People want their needs and feelings to be considered, without ever giving thought to the needs or feelings of others. And to top it all off, their only excuse for not working for these things is that they “don’t feel like it.” I’m not even kidding! Sometimes, and this really gets me going, it comes from people who say they’re followers of Christ!
I just…I can’t. I mean, have they even read the Bible? ::HMMMPH::
While it seems like genuine and humble work-ethics (working hard without an attitude of entitlement) are hard to come by, I am assured that it is the path that God laid out for us. That as Christians, it is a mark of our difference from the world. A mark of true integrity, work-ethic, and humility is so incredibly rare, it can’t help but be noticed. God doesn’t just expect us to be obedient in our actions, he expects us to be obedient in our hearts, attitudes, motives, words, and certainly relationships. And those are just the basics. That’s the mothers’ milk…and we aren’t going to get a cookie every time we do what we’re supposed to do to begin with. Nor should we expect to!
We have basic duties as adults and as Christians that are just… basic. But we live in a culture that expects a standing ovation just for waking up in the morning. Being honest and having integrity (keeping our word, owning and repenting of our mistakes, etc.) is simply the milk of what it means to live as a Christian. It’s no more exceptional or reward-worthy than a grown adult going to the bathroom. It’s just…what you do.
I encounter so many people drenched in this entitled attitude, I can honestly envision them standing before God’s throne expecting God to clap for them! But according to Matthew 7:22-23, they’re going to have their world turned upside down when God replies something to the effect of, “I’m sorry, do I know you?” In contrast, the humble person spends their whole lives giving all they have and working to be obedient to God’s word with all their strength (often times without the slightest hint of acknowledgement…much less reward) and they still reach God’s throne in holy terror, knowing it was never enough to actually earn a reward.
The latter…I think that’s where God’s grace is found. Not in the arrogant “hey look at me, aren’t I awesome?” attitude or the “It’s okay, I can be lazy and selfish because God already forgave me and I don’t have to do anything now” attitude. No no. Face on the floor. Holy repentance. And the ever-present, ever-pervading truth that we are unworthy servants, obliged to do all that is commanded. Without thanks.