How do you picture God reacting when you stand before His throne? If you're a Christian, do you embrace the scripture that describes a crown of righteousness reserved for you? ("Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing." 2 Tim. 4:8.) Do you look forward to the day when you will hear "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matt. 25: 21, 23)?
Perhaps, like me, you will find this passage (Luke 17:7-10) a little more difficult to digest:
7 “Suppose one of you has a servant plowing 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’? 8 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’? 9 Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 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.’”
What? No crown? No "well done, good and faithful servant"? No "enter into my rest"?
This passage doesn't contradict those other passages, but it does speak to our heart and our motives. Are we living in accordance with God's Word because of the rewards we believe we will receive? Are we thinking of each person we share the Gospel with as another notch on our Bible belt? Do we entertain for one moment that we have done anything deserving of praise and honor from the Most High? Lord, have mercy on us if we let such a thought enter our minds.
Now compare this passage with Matthew 7:22 "Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’" Do you see the similarity of heart? Do you see the pride inherent in the thought that our Master should serve us or that 'I' did anything of merit?
Anything that is accomplished of eternal value through our lives, will only be accomplished by God, through His Spirit, living in us.
So how could I think that I deserve a crown or a throne or even a "well done" when it isn't I who did it, but Christ living in me?
Easier said than done to be sure.
Do I remember that showing love to someone is not about how I feel or what they deserve, but about allowing the Holy Spirit to work through me? When I finally DO the thing God has called me to - serve in the nursery, help a family in need, give to help missions, show love to my co-workers - do I pat myself on the back and feel satisfied with that meager offering? Do I compare my service to others and set myself up as judge?
Do I envision God saying, "Come sit down, you've had a tough day in the field, let me wait upon you"?
Lord, Have mercy on me if I seek anything but to serve you, if I entertain for one instant the notion that I deserve something other than eternal separation from you, that my works merit any compliment or reward from you. Let my heart's desire be to serve, rather than to be served.