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
God’s work is hard work. Serving people, just like plowing and tending to sheep, is exhausting. It requires patience, endurance, and strength. And we can never be done with God’s work until He says the work is done.
Earlier in the chapter, the disciples learnt that God can accomplish great miracles even through faith the size of a mustard seed. Fittingly, Jesus’ next words serve as an important reminder that even after accomplishing great things for the kingdom, we must not rest on our laurels.
The picture painted in verse 7 is that of a servant returning after laboring in the field. When he comes through the door, he isn’t offered as eat or a drink, and neither is he thanked. Instead, he is expected to continue in his duties because there is still work to do. It is the same for us as followers of Jesus. There is still plenty of work to do for God’s kingdom– neighbors to love, people to serve, friends to forgive, and nations to reach.
As Charles Spurgeon puts it: “Well, now, dear friends, after a good long day’s work, you shall have a change of occupation; but you shall go on working still. You have not finished your service yet. Have you had forty years of it? Well, that is a long day; but you have not done work yet, there is something else for you to do. If you cannot go out ploughing, you shall go down into the kitchen, and do some cooking; and if you cannot feed the cattle, you shall bring up a dish of food for your Master. This is a change of work for you; but you are to keep on as long as you live.”
In the course of our walk with God, the Lord may see fit to move the mountains before us. And some of us may also toil for years without seeing results or getting a pat on the back. Whatever the case may be,having the right perspective and attitude when serving God is important;we don’t serve to satisfy our pride, or to receive recognition and praise.Verse 10 suggests that what we are doing is simply our duty. Think of chores, school assignments, or work. We don’t expect parents to thank their children each time they make their beds, teachers to thank their students for completing their assignments, or management to thank their staff for having done their job. It is the understanding and ownership of our role, as children, students, or staff, that compels us to complete our tasks and do them well.
As people who have been redeemed by God, we live for Jesus because of all He has done for us. And unlike the relationship between a master and servant, God will one day praise us, saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” He has done far more for us than we could ever do for Him, and yet we are the ones who will be rewarded! So, when the work out in the field is done, remember that we are not done yet. It is time to come back inside, not to turn in, but to keep serving. There is always more work to do– and what a privilege that is!