At church Wednesday night our music pastor was finishing his series on Philemon. He got to the end and one of his points was “Just do it!” Too often we know the right thing and we struggle with “How can I do this? How can I forgive? How can I be kind? How can I treat them right? etc.” The answer is just do it; it was a good reminder, a convicting reminder.
It reminded me of a passage I had been studying for some time last semester. Luke 17:1-10
“Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.5 And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.6 And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.7 But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?8 And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?9 Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.”
What had me stumped and what I was studying was the last few verses beginning in verse 7 when Jesus presents this scenario to them about this servant. What did it mean? What was the point? I wanted to separate it from the context at first, but the more I studied it the more I realized it was not a separate story but immediately applicable to what had proceeded.
Jesus had just told the disciples to forgive people more than was normally required within their culture. The response is that they ask for more faith. Why did this response from the disciples trigger from Jesus this story? At first I didn’t think it did. I separated the two, but it is one story.
Jesus tells the disciples this story about the servant who does all he is commanded and the master does not give him space to eat until he has first eaten. Then afterward the servant does not get thanked, but instead says he is unprofitable because he did his duty. It was only his duty. He worked all day in the field; he came in and prepared supper and served it to his master; finally he got to eat and rest and he has no thanks. We would be upset. We would say we certainly deserved to be thanked and probably be given the next day off. We would expect the master to tell us we can eat first, and then we can serve him. No, the servant, the disciples, and we are to say that we are unprofitable; we have done that which was our duty. Why would Christ tell them they are unprofitable when they ask for more faith?
Certainly there is nothing wrong with asking Christ for faith, or for more faith. Jesus regularly upbraided them with their unbelief. Others asked for help with their unbelief. Faith is something that you can have a great amount of or a small amount of so to increase our faith is something we should be striving to do. So, how does this request for more faith result in Jesus reminding them that they are unprofitable servants because they have done that which was their duty to do?
Because the proper response to Jesus telling them to forgive was for them to do it, not to ask for faith to do it. The disciples didn’t need more faith, they needed to just do it. We are commanded many things of God. We are told to obey and fear. We are told to love our neighbor. God doesn’t say try to get up the feeling to love your neighbor. He doesn’t say ask me for the ability to love your neighbor. He says do it. Forgive, and if you need to forgive seven times in a day, forgive. “Lord, give us faith to forgive.” No, that isn’t the right response. The response is that we are unprofitable and it is our duty.
We do not need more faith to do what has been commanded of us. Just do it. Just forgive people. Just love your neighbor. Just be kind to one another. Just lay aside weights and sins that beset you. Just run the race. Just fight the fight of faith. Just do it. Don’t stop to say, “Oh Lord, I can’t do this! Please give me faith. Give me love. Give me forgiveness.” Just do it. It is our duty. He “hath given” unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness. Past tense. It is ours. Don’t keep asking for Him to enable you to do something that He has given you the ability to do, commanded you to do, and is your duty to do. Just do it.
Just love God. Just do your Bible reading. Just pray. Just obey. Just submit to authority. Just speak in love and meekness. Just do it. The list goes on an on.
We are God’s servants. He does not need to give us a break when we come in from the field. He does not ask us to eat and relax before we go on to the next aspect of service. There is no break from the Christian life. We are unprofitable servants. We like to get it in our heads that we have served all day at church and so we don’t need to go to that other extra function. We don’t need to serve at that thing because we did the other. God “owes” us a break. “God doesn’t want us to come in from the field and work to get dinner around without refreshing ourselves first. He wouldn’t want me to prepare dinner without taking a break.” Yes, He does want that. In fact, that is our duty. We are unprofitable servants. Can and does God give a respite? Certainly. He gives His beloved rest. But let us not dare think we deserve it or that He must. Our duty is to do whatsoever is commanded of us understanding we are unprofitable servants.
Just do it.