Thursday, March 20, 2008

Doing Our Duty

The Grateful Living: Part 3

Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem to face betrayal, beating, and crucifixion when 10 lepers plead for help. Showing compassion Jesus healed the 10 lepers, but only one of the lepers came back to thank Jesus and worship Him (Luke 17:11-19). What can we learn from the two distinct responses to Jesus’ healing?

The first response is obedience to ritual. Luke 17:14 reads; When he saw them, he told them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” While they were going, they were made clean (ISV).

To be honest with you it is hard for me to find fault the nine Jews had. After all they were obeying. They were not only obeying Jesus, but they were also obeying the Law God had given through Moses. For these men to be declared clean it was essential for them to be examined by a priest. Shouldn’t Jesus praise these men for their obedience and question the one for his lack of obedience? On the surface this is difficult to figure out.

Here is the problem with obedience, is especially to religious rituals. It can make us believe we have earned the blessings God has given us. In other words God’s blessings, in our minds, cease to be gifts, and become what we are owed.

This is what C.S. Lewis had to say about obedience to religious rituals:
“One mustn’t make the Christian life into a punctilious (meticulous) system of law, like the Jewish, [for] two reasons. (1) It raises scruples (second thoughts) when we don’t keep the routine. (2) It raises presumption when we do. Nothing gives one a more spuriously good conscience than keeping the rules, even if there has been a total absence of all real charity and faith” (Letters to an American Lady, pg. 38; The Joyful Christian, pg. 80).

It is entirely possibly that these nine Jews felt they were owed healing because of their obedience. Rather than being grateful they were getting what they were owed. That is why they didn’t return to Jesus to say thanks because they had finally been given what they deserved.

We have to guard ourselves against such thinking. God doesn’t owe us anything because we come to Worship Service on Sunday morning, on the Church Board, or give a small percentage of our income to His Kingdom. If all we did was perfectly obeyed then all we would be doing is what is expected from us.

If we take a look at the few verses that precede our text this morning we discover the Jesus taught about this very thing:
{7}"Would any one of you say to your slave who comes in from the field after plowing or shepherding sheep, 'Come at once and sit down for a meal'? {8} Won't the master instead say to him, 'Get my dinner ready, and make yourself ready to serve me while I eat and drink. Then you may eat and drink'? {9} He won't thank the slave because he did what he was told, will he? {10}So you too, when you have done everything you were commanded to do, should say, 'We are slaves undeserving of special praise; we have only done what was our duty.'" (Luke 17:7-10; NET)

While God desires our obedience, especially when it is done out of faith and love, that doesn’t mean God owes us anything because we have obeyed. Obedience is simply the duty that is expected from us.

The problem with the nine isn’t that they obeyed, but they lacked the real love for their Creator and Healer to take time to worship Him for the wonderful gift He had blessed them with. If all we do is obey God and never take the time to worship Him from the gratitude that has welled up in our hearts then we have settled for the good and missed the best.

  • Point to Ponder: Obedience is simply the duty that is expected from us.
  • Passage to Remember: Luke 17:7-10
  • Question to Consider: Are you doing your duty?

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