7 “Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? 8 Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? 9 Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’”
There is no score card or tally sheet in heaven and we are not the master of the ship. In some ways this would be one of the more difficult parables but it is simple in its depiction of the people Jesus was speaking to at the time. We often tend to forget that in Jesus’ early ministry he was speaking to mostly Jews. These were his people and prior to the start of his active ministry he lived and worked among them. In this Parable we learn that we cannot put God in our debt. Jesus is making that very point here in this parable. The Jews had this doctrine of works, plainly put, the more good you did the more points you got, a score sheet for mortals if you will. A Godly credit account.
( I will note here that next week we will look at an interesting conflict that exists with todays subject and can be found in The Book of James Chapter 2: 14-26)
One of the lessons here is when we have done our duty there is nothing extraordinary about that, for we have only done what was expected of us. Bear Bryant, Alabama football coach said it best. A player after scoring a touchdown in a critical game engaged in some rather over the top end zone celebrations. Coach Bryant called him over as he returned to the sidelines and reminded him that was not necessary. He is reported to have said…”son that is not necessary, act like you’ve been there before.” When we do as God would have us do we have only done what is expected of us. We are after all always and forever servants. The Jews believed that those who had done a sufficient number of good works were justified and they were the righteous. There were two other levels but to be noted here was the belief that those in the lower levels could pass into the ranks of the righteous by doing some extra good works. The Jews believed that any good deed could improve their Godly account. In short they did believe that man could put God in his debt. Barclay points out that God’s relationship with us is one of love. He points out that in reality the love a parent has for their child…so strong, so consuming,is a love that there is no way we could ever pay them back. No matter how generous that deed or gift might be, it would never be enough for the life they gave us and the love that sustains it. If we approach this from love’s view, we know it has no bounds and is not constrained by time…it is never ending and expects nothing in return.
We need to develop a servants heart. I have my own definition of a servant. A servant serves because it is expected of him, it is a duty born of necessity and cultural expectations. The righteous servant who serves with a servants heart, does so out of an abundance of love and expects nothing in return. We also learn here that there are no set hours for living a Christian life. There is a truth here that is very present in today’s world. I call it the faith of convince, you can’t take time off from being a Christian because it is inconvenient in a particular time or place or the company of others. As I wrote earlier this Parable can be difficult but if we look closely there is much here. God has given us his very best. God does not ask us to serve at our convince, he demands our very best at all times…..Christianity is not a part time endeavor. We are to serve, we are his servants and don’t need to engage in end-zone celebrations for doing what is expected of us.
Join us next week as we move to the Book of James chapter 2 for a different look at deeds.
Life is Good