“But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.” (Luke 17:7-9)
Think on these things
Think about the things in your life that you do all the time. The rote routines that are so ingrained that you both hate and also never think about anymore. Those things. Did you know, that’s what Jesus is referring to in the above passage? “Plowing or feeding cattle” is that which we were created to do. Before I go any further, let me just say that this is one of His stark parables that illustrates things in a dispassionate, if clinical, light. I’ll explain. But first:
“A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth? I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.” (Ecclesiastes 3:2, 9-10)
See, much of life is plain, dry, boring hard work. To irrationally and naively desire a way of life that is not challenging us in some way is foolish. This is how we grow. But because of sin, we are tempted to, how can I say this, not enjoy it for its own sake. If it’s hard to see the figure, the “servant”, of the top passage as referring to yourself, just focus on the master of the parable. Wait. Read it again. Jesus is asking what you would do were you in His shoes. He has some pretty big shoes to fill. This almost casts things in a different light but we’re not quite done with the point I’m trying to get at. The point I’m trying to get at is, life is and requires hard work. But how does it look if you’re the one holding the whip (or the keys, or the wallet). Think about it.
The word ratiocination means “a system of logical thought”. “From A to now to Z” as I would term it. After Jesus relates what He does, He says “I trow not”. A loose translation for that would be “I should think not”. But here’s the thing. Jesus prefaced it by essentially saying “what would you do in this case?” Yes, if we had a hired servant who was tasked with one thing and one thing only, would we be inclined to thank them for doing what they were hired (created) to do? Maybe the first time, when it was new. But how about everyday? I trow not. And let’s face it, not that I’m complaining, but unless we go out to eat, we rarely find ourselves in a position of having someone serve us and make our life easier.
Now think about the God we serve. Think about what is promised for the simple things. If God asks that we acknowledge Him in all our ways (see Proverbs 3:5-6) or take every single thought to Him out of obedience (see 2 Corinthians 10:5) or even give “one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple” (Matthew 10:41, emphasis mine), He says it means something. And that He’ll reward you. God is not like the master of the parable. He has every right to be and if all we do is choose to slave away with our heads down, He will start to look like that and at the end of the day (our life), all we’ll get is what’s coming to us. Because of what Jesus did, we can now look into the Father’s face. And also see His true character.
I should think…
“Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose name are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, rejoice.” (Philippians 4:1-3)
Tsk, tsk. Not sure if there’s a particular person Paul’s addressing here but evidently Euodias and Syntyche had gotten into a tiff and weren’t seeing things clearly. For Paul to pick them out and admonish them to work together (great minds, etc.) is pretty powerful. I bet they felt all sorts of special. But that’s what God does. He makes you feel wonderful. He loves His kids. I digress.
The Greek word for “yoke” is zeug. The word above translated “yokefellow” is soodzeugos. Not sure if I’m transliterating it correctly (I need some help) but the translation is “helper”. Another similar word should you dig a bit deeper in your dictionary is syzygy. That’s long been one of my favorite words purely for the fact that, unless you count the ‘Y’ as a vowel, it has none. And it sounds really cool, too. But it’s the definition that gets me. Yes, it means the same as “yokefellow” or maybe “co-worker”, but that’s just humanly speaking. Pan out. In astronomy, it acquires a new definition. In that aspect, it refers to three celestial bodies (earth, moon, sun, for instance) in alignment with one another.
This may all seem really random but the idea is that now, because of what Jesus has done for us, we have a new system to aspire to. God tells Adam that, because of sin, he would struggle to live day by day (“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread…” Genesis 3:19). Jesus, however, has supplanted that. He effectively plucked up that paradigm by the root and replanted a better and everlasting way of life. To where we now have the Holy Spirit to help us do the mundane as we in turn help others the same.
“But Jesus called them to Him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)