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The Parable of the Master and His Servant

“Suppose one of you has a servant ploughing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will 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.’”

Luke 17:7-10

Imagine working with someone who demanded to be praised every time they did the basics, or who insisted on taking a break after every small task. It would get pretty tiresome, wouldn’t it? You would want to shout at the “just get on with the job!”.

Jesus told his disciples to have the attitude of servants (though the actual word he used was slaves). Partly this meant living a life in service to others, but it also meant getting your head down and cracking on with the job. Servants were expected to work hard and not expect lots of praise and affirmation for doing their job.

I find this a challenging parable. I actually like to do good things for others. Doing someone else a good turn can feel really fulfilling. But I also like being patted on the back when I do something good. Trying to be good just for its own sake and not to be praised or even have your actions recognised, that is pretty tricky.

But the encouraging flip side of that is that we can find meaning and fulfilment in serving others. While praise is nice, we don’t need it in order to feel encouraged and restored. We know that God sees everything we do and is happy when we offer ourselves in love and service to others.

As Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount “when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Prayer: Servant God, help me to follow the way of Jesus and be a servant to others. Help me to move beyond performing for praise and teach me to find joy in knowing I have helped. Thank you that you see everything and treasure all good deeds. Amen.

Action: Do a good deed that you know no one else will find out about. It can be your secret.

This Thought was written by David Moodie