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A Sense of Duty
If our baptismal call begins with the “good confession” (1 Tim 6:12-13), it seems from there to include a sense of personal responsibility. We get a glimpse of this from a unique Gospel story about Jesus.
When Jesus was speaking to his disciples (and, by association, all who would thereafter follow him), he brought up the topic of sin. Sin, unfortunately, is “bound to come” in this fallen world, but Jesus stressed it was important that it not come through his followers (Lk 17:1). If any were to lead “little ones” (often a term of endearment for disciples) astray, their fate would be bleak (17:2). Jesus ended this point with the warning to “watch yourselves” (17:3). In other words, even disciples can be the source of sin, so each of us needs to take responsibility for our actions.
Jesus followed this topic with God’s secret weapon to break the power of sin in this world: correction and forgiveness. God corrects us when we sin, and if we are faithful to confess and repent to him, he forgives us. We also are expected to forgive the repentant in our own lives. So, if one of Christ’s followers is guilty of sin, as was warned against in the original topic, other followers are to confront him or her, and, if that person repents, we are to forgive (17:3). Even several times a day (17:4)!
When the disciples heard this they were astounded, but instead of taking responsibility for their actions they begged Jesus to increase their faith (17:5). But Jesus assured them, even if they had the smallest faith, faith the size of an insignificant mustard seed, they could totally change the landscape of their daily lives (17:6). To illustrate, he told them a parable about a servant and his relationship with his master (17:7-10). Servants do not question their roles, they do not shirk their responsibilities. Instead, even after working a whole day in his master’s field, the servant would clean himself up, prepare his master’s dinner, serve him, and only after he was finished would the servant then sit down and eat for himself. That is just what servants do, they fulfill their duties. Jesus wants us to see ourselves as servants and to take responsibility for our sins, for our willingness to correct others, and for our commitment to forgiveness.
Whatever it is that God is calling you to through your baptism—whether personally, relationally, vocationally, or otherwise—after you have done everything the Lord has told you to do, may you be willing to say, “I am just an unworthy servant; I have only done my duty” (17:10).
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