Sometimes as Christians we can’t help but feel good about ourselves, particularly when we are serving God faithfully. It’s subtle too. Maybe it’s hospitality, evangelism, preaching or teaching, or serving in the nursery–when we get done we might be tempted to say, “Ah, that was good.”
No problems there—right? Of course not.
But then it continues, “That was good. And, I am good. I’ve done well. People should see this.”
Now we have begun to veer.
It is good and right to serve with gusto and joy. It is dangerous to serve with pride and pretense.
Have you ever experienced this? Well, if not, you probably will–in the mean time you can pray for those of us who have.
Jesus provides a wonderful corrective for this type of thinking in Luke 17:
““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)
To the one who serves and feels like they deserve an appreciation party, Jesus says, “You have forgotten who you are and who God is.” See, we are servants and God is the Master. We have the privilege and the duty to serve him. When we do this we don’t deserve a banquet because it is what is expected.
I see this in my own home. My wife home schools the children and is with them more time than I am. Sometimes when I have extended time with them I’ll ask one, especially a younger one, to do something and they, wonderfully, do it. I am often tempted to give them a treat–a cookie or an M & M or something–just to encourage them. My wife reminds me, “Don’t do that. They have to remember that it is expected of them to help our around the house and do their jobs. Don’t reward them for doing what they are supposed to do.” Truth.
This type of thinking sneaks into our Christian life as well. Jesus reminds us what we are supposed to say (and think) when we serve: “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.” This does not minimize the work or the relationship, but it does minimize the pride. It puts everything in perspective. I am a servant who gets the privilege of serving the King of kings.