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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody


Luke xvii.7-10.

|We are unprofitable servants, we have done that which it was our duty to do.| It seems almost as if we must have misread this passage. Can one who has done his duty be called an unprofitable servant? Shall one have no credit because he has done what is right? This seems strange indeed. But Jesus in reality is contrasting two ideas of duty, -- the duty of a bond-servant and the duty of a son. The duty of a slave is to do what is demanded of him. He accomplishes his stint of work, his round of necessities, his grudging service, and for doing that duty he gets his hire and his day's work is done. Sometimes we see workmen for the city in the roadway, doing their duty on these terms, and we wonder that men can move so slowly and accomplish so little. They have done their duty, but they are unprofitable servants. Now against this, Jesus sets the Christian thought of duty, which {53} grows out of the Christian thought of sonship. A son who loves his father does not measure his duty by what is demanded of him. No credit is his for obeying orders. He passes from obligation to affection, from demand to privilege. And only as he passes thus into uncalled-for and spontaneous service does any credit come. There is no credit in a man's paying his debts, earning his hire, meeting his demands. The business man does not thank his clerk for doing what he is paid for. What the employer likes to see is that service beyond obligation which means fidelity and loyalty. Do you do your work for wages, for marks, from compulsion? Then, when you lie down at night, you should say: |I have done that which it was my duty to do, and I am ashamed.| Do you do your work for love's sake, for the life of service to which it leads, for generous ambition and hope? Then with all your sense of ineffectiveness and incapacity you may still have that inward peace and joy which permits you to say: |I have done but little of what I dreamed of doing, but I have tried, at any rate, to do it unselfishly and gladly, -- not as a bond-servant, but as a son.|

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