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Scratching God’s Back

Scratching God’s Back

Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. (Luke 17:33)

We make a mistake when we think serving God is equivalent to serving men. When we serve our neighbor, our friend, our spouse or our coworker, we subconsciously create a system of payment and debt. We build up favors with one another. Since I have scratched your back, both of us understand that one day you will scratch mine. Of course, this is never spoken out loud, we would fiercely deny such expectations. But it’s part of our ingrained human condition. God doesn’t play by those rules.

Several weeks ago I was in prayer, asking God to give me strength and grace to get through some various “crises” that had entered my life. It was a fine prayer, with lots of adjectives and long, drawn out, rambling phrases. Underneath it all was the expectation that since I had done plenty for God, he owed me help. I had scratched His back. It was time for God to offer a little scratch in return.

Truth surfaced in my heart: “God doesn’t need my service. He wants it, but he doesn’t need it.” I didn’t like this line of thinking, so I ignored it for a bit – but it bullied its way back in. “God doesn’t need me.”

If God didn’t need my service, then my failures didn’t hamper His will from being accomplished. My victories don’t provide leverage to convince God to listen to my prayer.

This revelation forces the question, “Why should I serve God, if my service isn’t necessary?” There is the whole obedience factor, but I do think it goes deeper.

While I mow our lawn, my five-year-old boy often likes to stand in front of me and grip the mower handle as I push. I don’t need him to mow my lawn. It will be accomplished whether he tagalong or not. But he wants to be with me. He wants to do what his father is doing. He wants to be in on accomplishing the tasks his father believes are important. His service is a precious and vital form of fellowship with me.

Is there any difference with our Father? He supplies us with the opportunity, the desire and the ability to accomplish His will. He guides our fumbling hands, removes the true burden from our shoulders and sees that we do not hurt ourselves. In our audacity, we return to Him, claiming that we deserve special favor for our “service.” Let it be enough for us to say that we were able to spend time with our Father.

Dig Deeper:

Read Luke 17.



Father, forgive me for thinking You need my help. Change my attitude so that my acts of service will be truly selfless – not hoping I’ll get some thing in return, but just enjoying working alongside You. Thank You for the opportunity.


RELEVANT’s “Deeper Walk” daily devotionals are presented by the LUMO Project, a visual translation of the four Gospels developed to engage people with scripture in a new way. You can watch the videos—which redefine the standard of visual biblical media—on YouTube, and find out more about LUMO’s mission at their website.

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