“…when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.'”
– Luke 17:10 (Jesus speaking)
There is no room for pride in the true Christian life – even when we live it well.
Jesus is the Christ (i.e. the Messiah). His life is the original Christian life – the first of its kind, a prototype to follow. He Himself was humble. He did not think His obedience made Him eligible to condemn the rest of us. On the contrary, He was willing to suffer pain and shame on our behalf.
Jesus’ faithfulness to God earned Him exemption from punishment – yet He accepted the punishment that was due sinners. And in accepting this punishment, He did not protest, complain, or threaten. On the contrary, He presented Himself like a lamb led to slaughter.
Jesus did everything He was supposed to do in this life, and, when He was finished, His attitude was, “I have done only that which I ought to have done.” This is the example we are to follow.
The devil will tempt us and entice us to think that obeying God is hard, that it requires too much of us. And then, if we happen to actually obey, He wants us to think we deserve a trophy for doing what we were supposed to do. In other words, if Satan can’t get us to disobey God, he will seek to have us so busy congratulating ourselves that we fail to see our next duty when it arises before us.
Here’s what Scripture says a sin is:
…to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
– James 4:17
Correspondingly, if we know the wrong thing to do and do it anyway, that is sin. The difference between sin and righteousness, therefore, is actually very simple.
Keeping a commandment brings rewards in and of itself; we do not need to boast that we have done what we are supposed to have done. After all, living the true Christian life is not a matter of comparing ourselves to each other, but rather comparing ourselves to Christ. If we succeed in becoming like Him, yet boast about it, we have not actually become like Him.
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord, help me not come short of anything I ought to be doing today…(this is where you remain quiet to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.
(All scriptures, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the NASB.)