Thursday, October 21, 2010


You know that wonderful promise in Luke 17 where Jesus says "if you have faith as small as a mustard seed"? This devotion isn't about that. It's about what Jesus told his disciples right after that. Listen closely:

7"Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, 'Come along now and sit down to eat'? 8Would he not rather say, 'Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink'? 9Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10So 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 17:7-10)

These verses aren't covered in many sermons, I suspect, because they're…well…uncomfortable.
"Unworthy servants" and "only doing our duty"- that's how Jesus says we should realistically view ourselves.

But wait, perhaps you're thinking of that phrase we love to quote, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" That's what we are, right? Good and faithful, not unworthy.

Let's look at that Luke 19 passage again, carefully:

15"He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it. 16"The first one came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned ten more.' 17" 'Well done, my good servant!' his master replied. 'Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.' (Luke 19:15-17)

The parallel passage is from Matthew 25:
"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

Think carefully, now. There is no conflict between being unworthy and being a good servant. We are unworthy, because we don't deserve the grace that our Lord shows us by calling us to be servants. With His help (see John 15:5 - we don't do anything apart from Him), we accomplish amazing things, but they are simply our duty. We're following His commands.

There is a key message that we as individuals and we as a church need to hear in Luke 19:17: the reward for accomplishment for Christ is greater responsibility! "Take charge of ten cities" is a much larger responsibility than being a steward of a mina (which was about 3 months' wages).

As I have read and reread the New Testament I have noticed that there is something missing. No where does Jesus ever tell someone that their current level of service is fine and they can just coast, slide comfortably the rest of the way. Jesus recognizes good service and rewards it, but short of heaven we will continue to have increasing opportunities for service - which is the grand adventure of following Christ!

I believe God has already planned great things for us to accomplish in His strength and by His sovereign direction. (See Ephesians 2:10) God loves us far too much to let us sit on our past accomplishments, or wallow in our current state of sanctification. There are larger and greater steps that we will take to fulfill the Great Commission, our standing orders.

It's become popular today to challenge a person, saying "Man up!" My challenge to us is that we say - with joy, entering our Master's happiness, doing our duty - "Servant up!"

May God bless you, and bless us, for the glory of Jesus.


forever said...

I'm appreciate your writing skill.Please keep on working hard.^^

Jason Dillingham said...

Great perspective on being a servant. Never noticed before but the passage in Luke 17 gives a great illustration of our service in the Kingdom (plowing and tending sheep) and our service to the King (serving Him in eating and drinking). Thanks for the insights.

Glenn said...

Thanks, Jason and "forever" -- appreciate your comments. Keep on teaching to change lives.