by Matt Slick
Luke 17:5-10 is an interesting set of verses: "And the apostles said to the Lord, Increase our faith! 6 And the Lord said, If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, Be uprooted and be planted in the sea; and it would obey you. 7 But 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? 8 But will he not say to him, Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me until I have eaten and drunk; and afterward you will eat and drink? 9 He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? 10 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."
The context is that Jesus had just instructed the disciples to forgive seventy times seven if necessary. The disciples then ask to have their faith increased. This makes perfect sense since the level of forgiveness that Jesus is asking of us is far beyond our normal range of tolerance. In order to be so very forgiving, we need the grace of God working in us mightily. This level of forgiveness is an obligation of Christians. Why? Because we have been forgiven of far greater sins by the Lord. As we have been forgiven, so ought we to forgive.
But then, Jesus gives an interesting story about the servant doing his standard job of serving the master. Why did Jesus mention this here? The answer is quite simple. This, too, is an issue of obligation for Christians--to do that which is what we are supposed to do. In the context, we are to have faith. The disciples asked for more faith, and Jesus says, "If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, Be uprooted and be planted in the sea; and it would obey you." The fact is that they did have faith--and so do you. Whether or not your faith is great or weak, it is faith. With that faith, trust God. Therefore, we are to be completely trusting of God, "faithing" our way through life, leaning on Him, trusting Him for all things.
As the disciples should not get extra praise for doing what they are supposed to do, i.e., love their neighbors, have faith in God, be honest, etc., likewise, we Christians have certain obligations before the Lord that we should not be patting ourselves on the back for accomplishing: going to church, praying, tithing, worship, "faithing," etc. The whole attitude of Christians should be one of humility and not one of "I deserve" and "I should be rewarded for my faithfulness," etc.
Now, lest we fall into legalism here, our obligations before God are not legalistic impositions that make us or break us as Christians. On the contrary, our relationship with God is based on the work of Christ, not upon our faithfulness or lack thereof. Jesus did it all, and we are saved from the righteous wrath of God through Him.
Nevertheless, are you doing what you are supposed to be doing as a Christian? Are you praying regularly, having devotions, forgiving, loving, being patient, etc.? These are important questions, and we need to answer them periodically and make adjustments accordingly.
But one thing is for sure. The Lord is kind and merciful, and He loves us no matter how well or poorly we do. I thank God that my relationship with Him is not based on me but on Him. To Jesus be the glory.