Our Reasonable Service

In this passage, Jesus was teaching His disciples an important truth using a parable about a hard-working servant and his master.

Taking into account the verses prior to this passage (Luke 17:3-6), we see that Jesus taught how we are to forgive again and again—over and over—anyone who repents of a trespass against us. His apostles indicated they needed greater faith than they had to do this (Luke 17:5). Jesus—seemingly out of the blue—related how they could do mighty things with the faith they already possessed, and then immediately began to relate the parable of the unworthy servant. It may seem the entire context is unrelated, but as usual, Jesus’ teaching was perfectly attuned to every aspect of the situation.

I have found (perhaps like many of us) forgiving an offense over and over is one of the hardest things required of believers. Yet, we can do this and much more if we have faith even as tiny as a mustard seed. It is the grace of Jesus that enables us, and so we need not think too highly of ourselves just because we obeyed our Master…even in forgiving the undeserving.

As an example of this kind of humility, the parable describes how a servant who had worked hard plowing and feeding cattle came in from the field, yet was not allowed to sit and eat until after his master had finished his meal. Not only that, the servant did not merit being thanked for the work he had done! He had simply performed his duty as he was supposed to…there was no room for pride.

Recognition and appreciation are valued by our souls; so naturally, when we have worked hard and faithfully, we would like to hear at least a ‘thank you.’ While the Lord is a Rewarder to the faithful (see Hebrews 11:6-9), we should not expect or require a pat on the back when we are obedient to his commands; instead, we could think of submission to God’s will as a privilege and our reasonable service” (see Romans 12:1). That is, obeying His commands is our proper worship toward Jesus, the One who deserves far more than we could ever offer.