Here’s what I often forget: God owes me nothing. I could be the best disciple or pastor, and God still owes me nothing. In fact, the opposite is true: I owe God everything. It’s a privilege just to serve him.
Why do I live like God owes me something? Could it be that I’m really serving myself when I think I’m serving God?
In Luke 17, Jesus tells a story about servants who work hard but receive no thanks. Jesus concludes his story by giving us an important lesson: “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty’” (Luke 17:9-10).
If we’re not careful, we will think that God is stingy and ungrateful. That’s not true at all. God is anything but stingy, and he repeatedly promises rewards for those who serve him.
Instead, Jesus is setting us free from thinking that we earn through our service. The moment that pride enters our service to God, we begin to serve ourselves rather than him. God isn’t stingy; God is good in preventing us from ruining our ministries with a sense of entitlement. He’s injecting grace into our service and knocking us off the earning treadmill.
“Though we have no claim upon him for a reward,” wrote Charles Simeon, “he will requite our services; nor shall the smallest attempt to honor him be overlooked.”
I owe him everything; he owes me nothing. My service is never about earning, and God desires to protect me from myself even in how I serve him.
I wonder how this would change my life if I really understood it.