We all like a pat on the back. A “Well done” after we do something. But is that why we serve? For the praise of others? For the praise of God even?
Do we feel underappreciated when it doesn’t come? Or even upset?
Jesus gives a very interesting illustration here. He says,
Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Would he not rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ (7-10)
What is Jesus saying here? That God does not appreciate our efforts? That he won’t reward the work we’ve done? No. From other passages we do see that he appreciates and rewards the work we do.
But I think there are a couple things to remember here.
First, as long as we are on this earth, there is always work to be done. There is no room to be resting on our laurels. There’s even less room to be looking for those laurels. Rather, we are to continue doing the things that God has called us to do.
Second, no matter what work we’re doing, no matter our position in the kingdom, we serve solely because of the grace of God. We are unworthy to receive anything from God. Certainly, we’ve done nothing to earn our salvation. But that God would use us despite our faults, our weaknesses, and our failures, can also only be seen as God’s grace. More, God gave us the gifts and talents that allow us to serve. He gave us the strength and the wisdom. And if we’ve received all these things, do we really have any room for pride? As Paul wrote,
For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? (I Corinthians 4:7)
So as long as we live, let us continue to do the things that God has called us to do. Humbly. Faithfully. And remembering that we do so solely because of his grace towards us.