December 10, 2012

“So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” Luke 17:10

I guess it is time for a little transparency.  I have to periodically remind myself of why I am writing this blog.  My experience has been that a lot of people are struggling in the body of Christ; needlessly struggling.  Many people seem stuck on a perpetual spiritual roller coaster; up and down, up and down. However, you would never know it on a Sunday morning. We Christians learn very quickly how to look like we have it all together.  We can play that game for so long that eventually we begin to believe it.  However, that game is detrimental to ourselves and those who are watching us.

My reason for blogging meditations from my own daily Bible reading is to hopefully be an example. I don’t have it all together. I have walked with my Lord and Savior for over thirty years.  By His grace and mercy, I am still learning, still growing, still being molded, still being humbled, and I hope, still being useful. I don’t want a mask of religious perfection. I’ve tried that and it always falls off at the most inappropriate times.

Being fake is of no benefit to my sanctification or to my family and those who are traveling this narrow road with me. We need transparency among us, brothers and sisters, to encourage one another on to greater devotions and good works.

This passage goes straight to a heart condition that I don’t know of anyone who has mastered well. There are motivations behind what we do.  Many have not even asked the question or explored what those motivations are. They just keep doing what they do because of habit, obligation, or instinct.  However, wrong motivations can easily creep into our duties. We can fall into the extremes of slavishly fulfilling our duty because we have to or the other end of doing our duty in hopes of gaining a reward either from God or from people.

Our pride is such a cunning beast. John Piper once spoke of  how easily the pride of authoring a book and being a respected preacher can so easily creep into his attitude and motivations. Let’s face it, we all like being liked. I do not know a single person who does not like a complement, a pat on the back, an accolade or two.  The best will divert the praise to something like – “all glory goes to God”, which is very appropriate. However, it still feels good.

I like being liked. I like the opiate of men’s praise. I want others to think well of me.  It is very sly how a taste for that praise can creep into our motivations. I get encouraged when I receive praise and fight discouragement when it is lacking.

How foolish is that? We are not to live as praise addicts, constantly performing in hopes of obtaining our next fix.

I am just a servant that is following my calling – to glorify my King. You are just a servant.  Every Christian leader with thousands of followers is just a servant.  We are all responsible to our own duty whether that is in service of tens of thousands or one. There is only one “like” in our lives that should really matter – God’s opinion is the only praise that really matters for any of us.

He is the one and only motivation for doing what we do but here is the really good news. It is a duty unlike any other; it is a duty transformed into a desire.

“…but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man.” Eph. 6:6b-7

 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15 

 “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:3

I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:3

Our duty as servants is actually our pleasure. John Piper gives a wonderful example of how his wife would never want flowers from her husband given as an act of duty. She wants flowers that are an expression of the love of her husband. It is the same for us Christians. God changes our hearts so that we can see that our greatest pleasure and fulfillment comes when we respond to him in love.  Our duty is actually an opportunity to put our love of our Savior in action.

So, why are you doing your duty?  Is it because you have to, is it to get the praise of men, or is it because that is just what good servants do – an expression of their love?

PRAYER: Lord – Thank you for revealing in me those areas of my life where my motives are not right. Forgive me of my pride and desire for the praise of men. Father, wean me from wanting to hear the accolades of people I don’t even know more than pleasing you.  Focus my eyes on you and change my heart to desire only to do the duty that you have given me to do.    Amen


  1. […] THE OPIATE OF PRAISE – Dec. 10th […]

  2. Thank YOU Lord, I need to be kept in the straight and narrow. I needed this today especially the scriptures and as icing on the cake prayer to keep me from the very thing that took the devil out of heaven…Blessings on you and your ministry

    • I am so glad that God could be use it to bless you.

  3. Amen.

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