Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Luke 17:5-9 -- On Beyond Obedience

"And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.
And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.
But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?
And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?
Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not."
Luke 17:5-9

Right before this, Christ is talking about forgiveness, and perhaps because of that discussion, the apostles ask him to increase their faith... so this is necessarily a faith-stretching lesson.  If we had enough faith, trees would do as we ask, but then Christ starts talking about people.  If we have servants that do as we ask, do we thank them for doing their jobs?  "I trow not" is the New Testament version of "I think not." :)  He continues after this to explain that if we only do what we are commanded that we are also unprofitable servants.  And this can seem harsh if we look at it only from our side, but God, by explaining it from the master's perspective is asking us to look at the other side. If we had employees, or children, or students, or even a spouse perhaps... and they did everything we asked them to do, that would be great... right?  But not really if that is all they do.  If one of my employees has to be asked to do everything, and I give her a minimum amount to do, and she does it every time, but never more, even when she gets it done quickly, that is not a reason for extra thanks.  It is the employee that goes above and beyond that I want to thank.  The one who blows past the minimums.  The one who comes up with her own ways of improving things and making things better.  The one who excels.  And with children and spouses, we don't just want automatons that obey every command, do we?  We want independent thinkers we have their own projects and who bring life to whatever they do.  Who enjoy being there, who want to do it right, and who get up when they fall and keep trying.  And if *we* want that, why do we ever think that God only wants obedience?  He wants so much more than that.  He wants us to love our work, to love the people around us, to go above and beyond the things that he asks, and to make our lives and the world so much better.  And he stands ready to assist us with even the smallest ideas and projects to do so.
We aren't ready for the sycamine tree yet because we are still stuck on the obedience level. :)  We have the power within us to do ANYTHING, but until we can get past the idea of employment as a burden, or everything else we do as a burden and start thinking of it as an opportunity and a chance to jump in and do something creative to make things better, then we're not going to develop that kind of increased faith.
Today, before we ask the people around us to be more than they are, let's focus on being more than we are.  Let's be obedient as a minimum, and let's blow past that... let's go way further in finding ways to make the world around us a better, kinder, happier place.  Instead of worrying about working for money, or affection, or whatever it is that is burdening us, let's work for God.  Let's be his best employees, and let's make this world, and ourselves, better.  Then, we will not only deserve to be called "profitable" servants, but realize the truth of being his sons and his daughters... happy to be in the family, and finding our own projects to improve and bring life to everything we touch.

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