God Is My Commander!

July 31st, 2008 • Category: Gospel of Luke
by Mark Shoup

Today’s scripture: Luke 17: 7-10 (ESV-text and audio) (KJV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Mark Shoup):

Contained in this passage is a lot of language that may cause our modern sensibilities confusion or outright revulsion.  I know that whenever the Bible starts talking about “slaves,” my skepticism light comes on, and it is easy for me to dismiss whatever message was trying to be delivered.  This is further complicated by people like Paul, whose favorite self-characterization is that of “the slave.”

But I think we need to keep in mind that slavery was a universally accepted state of affairs at the time — it’s just the way that world worked. It might be helpful to to replace the word “slave” with “servant,” which implies a similar meaning.  Then we can hopefully get past all our prejudice and get to the meaning Luke is trying to tell us.

I think the main points offered are as follows:

  1. A servant’s work is never done, but is continuous.
  2. The duty of a servant is very much like the discipline of military life.
  3. A servant always displays humility, and is under no misconception of equality with their master.

It flies in the face of all that we today think of about relationships between people.  Of course we should invite the servant in to our table after a hard day of working for us.  It is the very least we could do.  But what we must keep in mind is that this metaphor is not about two people, but about God and ourselves.

We are not equal to God, in any way, nor should we ever entertain such notions.  We should not expect God to reward us for doing what God wants us to do, anymore than our cars should expect us to thank them for driving us to the store.  As servants of the Most High God, we are always on notice, and our service is never over.  There is no “leave of absence.”

These are the points I gather from this scripture.  It is not a justification of slavery, nor is it a guideline for handling servants.  It is a description of the nature of our relationship with God.

Thought for the day:  Lord, help me to think of myself as your shovel, automobile, or paper clip; nothing more.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading.  If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

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