One of my least favorite words in the entire English language is the word deserve. When people use it around me, they use it fundamentally differently than other similar words like earned. To deserve something often seems to imply a moral obligation that you get it. Earning something implies that you did something and are now being rewarded.
When people see something good that happens, they’ll often comment that I deserved it. Although I wince inside, I smile and nod.
The reason I have a problem with the word deserve is mostly spiritual. When I look at my life with all it’s problems, when I am forced to see the sin that is so often present, I realize that I deserve nothing. I’m not entitled to anything. I’m saved by grace and not works.
One of my favorite passages in scripture is in Luke 17:10. Jesus just finishes telling a story about how slaves work all day then come in to prepare the dinner for the master. Only then does the slave eat. And Jesus tells us that’s exactly how we should be.
So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty. – Luke 17:10
We don’t deserve anything. On our best day, when we’ve loved and cared for the broken, when we’ve given away everything we have, our pride wants to step in and remind us how good we are. Christ wants to remind us that we’re only doing our duty.
So next time someone tells you that you deserve something. Smile. Nod. Be thankful. And remember that just maybe that good thing you don’t really deserve at all.