Unprofitable Servants

Luke 17:7-10
7But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?
8And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?
9Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.
10So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

7“Suppose someone has a servant who is plowing fields or watching sheep. Does he tell his servant when he comes from the field, ‘Have something to eat’? 8No. Instead, he tells his servant, ‘Get dinner ready for me! After you serve me my dinner, you can eat yours.’ 9He doesn’t thank the servant for following orders. 10That’s the way it is with you. When you’ve done everything you’re ordered to do, say, ‘We’re worthless servants. We’ve only done our duty.’ ”

If we have obeyed God, we have only done our duty, and we should regard it as a privilege. Do you sometimes feel that you deserve extra credit for serving God? Remember, obedience is not something extra we do; it is our duty. Jesus is not suggesting that our service is meaningless or useless, nor is he advocating doing away with rewards. He is attacking unwarranted self-esteem and spiritual pride.

Matthew Henry puts it nicely and clearly understandable… “God cannot be a gainer by our services, and therefore cannot be made a debtor by them. He has no need of us, nor can our services make any addition to his perfections. It becomes us therefore to call ourselves unprofitable servants, but to call his service a profitable service, for God is happy without us, but we are undone without him.”

Matthew Henry puts in detailed explanation “1. We are all God’s servants (his apostles and ministers are in a special manner so ), and, as servants, are bound to do all we can for his honour. Our whole strength and our whole time are to be employed for him; for we are not our own, nor at our own disposal, but at our Master’s. 2. As God’s servants, it becomes us to fill up our time with duty, and we have a variety of work appointed us to do; we ought to make the end of one service the beginning of another. The servant that has been ploughing, or feeding cattle, in the field, when he comes home at night has work to do still; he must wait at table, v. 7, 8. When we have been employed in the duties of a religious conversation, that will not excuse us from the exercises of devotion; when we have been working for God, still we must be waiting on God, waiting on him continually. 3. Our principal care here must be to do the duty of our relation, and leave it to our Master to give us the comfort of it, when and how he thinks fit. No servant expects that his master should say to him, Go and sit down to meat; it is time enough to do that when we have done our day’s work. Let us be in care to finish our work, and to do that well, and then the reward will come in due time. 4. It is fit that Christ should be served before us: Make ready wherewith I may sup, and afterwards thou shalt eat and drink. Doubting Christians say that they cannot give to Christ the glory of his love as they should, because they have not yet obtained the comfort of it; but this is wrong. First let Christ have the glory of it, let us attend him with our praises, and then we shall eat and drink in the comfort of that love, and in this there is a feast. 5. Christ’s servants, when they are to wait upon him, must gird themselves, must free themselves from every thing that is entangling and encumbering, and fit themselves with a close application of mind to go on, and go through, with their work; they must gird up the loins of their mind. When we have prepared for Christ’s entertainment, have made ready wherewith he may sup, we must then gird ourselves, to attend him. This is expected from servants, and Christ might require it from us, but he does not insist upon it. He was among his disciples as one that served, and came not, as other masters, to take state, and to be ministered unto, but to minister; witness his washing his disciples’ feet. 6. Christ’s servants do not so much as merit his thanks for any service they do him: “Does he thank that servant? Does he reckon himself indebted to him for it? No, by no means.’’ No good works of ours can merit any thing at the hand of God. We expect God’s favour, not because we have by our services made him a debtor to us, but because he has by his promises made himself a debtor to his own honour, and this we may plead with him, but cannot sue for a quantum meruit—according to merit. 7. Whatever we do for Christ, though it should be more perhaps than some others do, yet it is no more than is our duty to do. Though we should do all things that are commanded us, and alas! in many things we come short of this, yet there is no work of supererogation; it is but what we are bound to by that first and great commandment of loving God with all our heart and soul, which includes the utmost. 8. The best servants of Christ, even when they do the best services, must humbly acknowledge that they are unprofitable servants; though they are not those unprofitable servants that bury their talents, and shall be cast into utter darkness, yet as to Christ, and any advantage that can accrue to him by their services, they are unprofitable; our goodness extendeth not unto God, nor if we are righteous is he the better, Ps. 16:2; Job 22:2; 35:7.”

I’ve been spending the last 2 days working with the logistics team to prepare for VBS. It’s easy to put one’s experience and method into play. Which is not wrong, but it becomes wrong and we become judgemental to another and bring the other person down. Serving in VBS what’s our sole objective? It is to glorify God. If it’s to glorify God, then we need to come with a humbling heart. We can’t glorify God if we expect something in return. As the bible puts it, we deserve nothing in return. Matthew Henry nails home the point, “God is happy without us, but we are undone without him.” It sounds unfair but that’s the spiritual fact. We are at the mercy of God. Nobody enjoys being at the mercy of someone else…. and this is a hard saying. To be at the mercy of someone is humbling, not proud. And that’s why God wants us to be, humbled before him.

It is true that Matthew Henry commented, God does not need us… rather the opposite. That should change our perspective of God. We are only his creation, for his pleasure.

“say, We are unprofitable servants: we have” the last part of verse 10 reminds us of our status of being humble. No wonder is good to read the bible everyday. We get something everyday.

Thanks God for this short bible study on Luke 17:7-10


~ by ymsim on 2011/06/01.

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