God doesn’t owe us anything. Sometimes I forget this truth. I bemoan my life and don’t understand why I don’t have what everyone else seems to have.
A while ago, a friend and I ran errands to get care package items for the people on her mission trip. She felt loved with acts of service, and I liked quality time, so a trip to Walmart to buy gifts was perfect. I returned to her place to change clothes because I was heading straight to another friend’s wedding that evening.
I complained that it seemed unfair that she got to go on a mission trip and my other friend was getting married. What was I doing with my life? Nothing. I explained to her that even though I tried to obey God, read my Bible, and pray regularly, my life looked nothing like I’d expected. Tears of frustration welled up in my eyes. Why wasn’t I going places or getting married? Didn’t God know I was doing my best? Didn’t God love me?
My friend introduced me to a story from Luke 17. Jesus reminded His disciples that after a servant came in from tending sheep, his master didn’t offer for him to sit and eat first. No, the master expected the servant to make food for the master and rest later. Luke 17:10 says, “So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do’” (NKJV).
Her illustration rubbed me wrong. I didn’t want to be an unprofitable servant who simply does her duty. I’m not a robot. My friend highlighted that our pride causes us to bristle. We want to feel worthwhile in and of ourselves, when all of our worth and value comes from God, not from our works.
We don’t serve God because of what we get from Him, but because of who He is. God is worthy of more than we could ever give Him. If we approach our relationship with God as a series of transactions, we will lose every time. We can never do enough to earn God’s blessings. It is naïve to even think so, yet we do. The only exchange happened when God sent His Son Jesus to take the punishment for our sins on the cross. Jesus took our sins, and we get His righteousness and eternal life in heaven. That is a much better reward than trying to earn the American dream through bribing God with my works.
Years later, my life still doesn’t look like everyone else’s life. I’ve decided that’s a good thing. If the world is living to serve themselves, my life shouldn’t look like theirs. I live to serve Christ. Over time, God has opened unique doors for me to serve His kingdom that wouldn’t have been available if I’d taken a more traditional road. And that joy I thought would come from having it all, actually came as a byproduct from seeking God first. Obedience is its own reward. Now my goal is to get to heaven one day and hear my lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:23, NKJV).
Joanna Eccles has led Bible studies for over ten years and completed the year-long C. S. Lewis Fellows Program. She is passionate about discipleship and helping people know God better. Joanna enjoys coffee, traveling, and reading, and currently lives in Virginia.