We Can Only Hope to Do Our Duty
Temptation. It was temptation that brought us down in the Garden. Adam and Eve were doing quite well, that is, until the tempter came along: “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’” And from that primal twisting of God’s word, Satan planted the doubt and even suspicion that the One who created them would dupe them. And then the sin was committed. Temptation is an awful thing. We are all tempted in various ways. Some even become addicted to their temptations. The “Desert Fathers” of the early Church said that we can be sure that we shall be tempted until the day of our death. So we must be ever vigilant, knowing our own weaknesses, and when the tempter is afoot (1 Peter 5:8-11).
Now we expect Satan to tempt us; he’s made it his primary task. But the really terrible thing is when we do his job for him. That’s what Jesus is talking about here: “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come.” Woe to the one who becomes a “Satan” to someone else. And we must sadly confess that there have been times when we have been just that. We must be very careful to watch ourselves that we give no cause for someone else to stumble, especially a little one, or someone newborn in the faith. We are to shepherd one another in the faith, not hinder, and certainly not lead into sin. The consequence is quite dire.
But Jesus comes right back with the good news: there is forgiveness both for us and the one who sins against us. Such requires an active faith; after all, some things really hurt. But if we would only exercise as much faith as a grain of mustard seed, what amazing forgivers we could be. Being a forgiver is a wonderful thing, both for the person we forgive, and for ourselves. And being forgiven is more wonderful still. Strive to be forgiving.
Jesus then shares the parable in which a servant comes in from working all day. Does he rest? No. He must rise and serve his master dinner. Now again, the meaning of the parable is not that anyone should be such a master. Jesus tells us the meaning: “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.’” Now, blessed be our God and Father that He is not such a master; indeed, He serves us every day with blessings innumerable, and much more than we could ever serve Him. So it is true: We could never repay Him for all He has done for us, and at the end of the day, we have only done our duty – if that much.