Reading my Bible made me angry this week. It doesn't happen often, but some teachings are hard to accept. So here's what I learned, from Luke 17:7-10.
“Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’?
“But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’?
“He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he?
“So you too, 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.'”
Add that to Matthew 5:48 - a commandment to be perfect - and you have some pretty ridiculous stress. Just to get to the baseline, just to live up to God's expectations, I have to be perfect. And for it, I get called an unworthy slave!
Actually, I don't get called an unworthy slave, though God certainly has the right to call me whatever He wants (Job 38). I'm supposed to remember my position in relation to God, and call myself an unworthy slave. God will say to those who do as they are commanded, “Well done, good and faithful slave” (Matthew 25:21). The idea is humility. God doesn't need you or me. He doesn't need anyone. He'll never have cause to thank any of us, either, no matter how much time we spend doing good works and ministry, no matter how perfectly we follow His laws.
And, strangely enough, recognition of our lowly position is somehow liberating. I don't need to skip out on family time with my wife so that I can be involved in every single ministry my church does. I don't need to work myself to death trying to be there for everyone, all the time, no matter what. God can provide for all those ministries, all those people, all those needs, better than I can (incredible, I know). I simply need to find God's will for me - whatever it is that He commands me to do - and do it. Sometimes, it's as simple as sitting at His feet (Luke 10:38-42). Sometimes it's more. But whatever it is, the world doesn't rest on my shoulders. It is in His hands (yes, He's got the whole world in His hands).
I'm not Atlas. I'm just an unworthy slave of the LORD Most High.