In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus asks, “Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table?’ Would he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished’? Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded? So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’” (Luke 17: 7-10)
At first read, this passage might sound a little heartless. Where’s the kindness and compassion toward the servant? But, when you delve deeper into the message, the implications of it being cold disappear under the profound message our Lord is conveying.
• First we notice that the servant is simply doing his work.
• Next we realize that the servant’s work wasn’t complete when he finished the plowing and sheep tending.
• And finally we can see that the servant was obliged to continue his work until the Master’s needs were fulfilled.
You may be wondering what this passage means for us. How can we relate to this at all? Well, it does, in fact, transcend time and is actually very applicable to us.
See yourself as God’s servant. Not in a slave-like manner, but under the aspect of loving service. Got doesn’t use us for utilitarian purposes, like little soldiers sent to carry out a task. No, we are called to the work we do in His name, and our response is one of joyful service rising out of our love for God.
So, then, no matter the work we do, the Attitude of the Servant that we should adopt is one in which we are not seeking praise, nor do we despair when humbled, because we are simply doing the work we have been called to do. We continue in our efforts because we love God, not for any self-seeking purpose.
In regards to the servant’s work not being done with the plowing and sheep tending, we understand in our own lives that we need to continue through to the end in the work we do for God. No half-finished job here. We don’t get to quit when we are tired, bored, or uninterested. Our work is work that must be continued until there is no more we can do. We will leave our aprons on throughout our entire life.
What is this work that we are called to do from our place in the Church?
The Gospel of John, Chapter 15: 13-17 states it quite clearly:
“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”
We give of ourselves, and through our love for God, and the grace He gives, we witness to the Gospel and cooperate with him in helping others turn toward him. Ultimately, we love, and our lives reflect His love. When we do this with the heart of a servant, without any self-seeking, then we find joy in saying: ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’”
What is God calling you to do?