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DAY 33

Read: Luke 17:1-19

My ten-year-old son recently learned how to play the board game called LIFE. The game has “salary cards,” so he quickly put together the idea of work and receiving a paycheck.

Then a burst of inspiration came upon him, and he spent two hours in his room with paper, markers, and scissors. He decided to create his own salary cards. So he made cards that read:

Make Bed — $2
Sweep Porch — $3
Empty Dishwasher — $5

He was so proud of his salary cards, but he was a little dismayed when I told him that I would not pay him the amounts he had listed. I’m fine with the idea of a weekly allowance, but I don’t want a specific dollar amount assigned to each task. Of course, he wondered why, so I tried to explain that helping out around the house is part of being a member of the family.

I encounter the same mindset in 17-year-old students in my class too. If we work on an activity together, they immediately want to know how many points it’s worth. They want to know the point-value of everything. Now on tests and major projects, I get it. The points matter. But on simple daily activities?

Some assignments are merely a stepping stone to the next assignment, and I want my students to understand that value of working hard — simply for the sake of doing their best, and not because there’s a point value attached.

Today’s reading holds an obscure passage that I don’t hear many sermons on — if any.

Jesus said:

When you have done everything you were told to do, you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants, we have only done our duty.’ (Luke 17:10)

The idea of “doing our duty” without receiving a paycheck or receiving a reward can be disheartening. We like rewards. We like incentives. And we know that doing our duty will often lead to the ability of doing so with sincere joy.

But the idea being expressed in this passage is really one of humility. It takes humility to work hard on something and not receive the points we want for it. It takes humility to give our best to something, knowing that we’ll probably never be recognized or acknowledged for our efforts or accomplishments.

We like strokes and compliments, but Jesus commands us to love others before ourselves. And we’re most free to love and serve others when we’re not so focused on what we’re getting after a finishing a certain project or job.
 

Denise J. Hughes

A lover of words and the Word. Author of Word Writers Bible studies. Editorial Coordinator for (in)courage. Host of Deeper Waters Retreat.

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