Today’s Reading – Luke 17 & 18

So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do. (Luke 17:10)

For many years I have misunderstood the verse above, thinking that it was a kind of a commendation from the Lord for the servant who obeys the will of God completely. However, after chewing on the verse for many years, I have come to realize that this passage is teaching something altogether different. Our human nature cries out for acknowledgement. We want to be acknowledged for every little thing that we do. We want to get an “attaboy” every time that we obey something that we were commanded to do. We love to receive the recognition, the public praise, that we are doing good, even when we have only met the minimum requirements. God’s people need to be taught that they should do all that they do for the glory of God, not the praise of men. It is true that God is pleased with our obedience; but should we be rewarded and recognized for mere obedience. Should not rewards begin with those who are willing to go the second mile; those who go beyond that which is merely commanded. Should I get a pat on the back for attending a church service when I have been commanded to “not forsake the assembling of ourselves together”. Should I be rewarded for putting a tenth in the offering plate when giving really begins beyond the tithe. Should I be put up on a pedestal for sharing the gospel with someone when it is my duty to do so. These are all part of my “reasonable service”, and I should not be looking for an “attaboy” for obeying what God commands. Besides what could I possibly do for Him that would compare to what He has done for me?

Having said that, let me now shift gears and say a word to those of us who are in positions of leadership. I believe the Lord would want us to encourage, especially, new believers. Babes and children need to be praised for the doing of right. Look for opportunities to recognize and appreciate someone for their obedience, especially if they are going the second mile. However, if you sense that the person is looking for recognition, and seeking not the approval of God, but the praise of men, be careful. That person needs to be taught to do their alms in secret, and to be content with knowing that God is pleased with them. Eventually we all need to grow up and seek through faith the approval of God. If He is pleased with us, then it should not matter whether men recognize it or not.

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