How often do we do something for someone else without expecting anything in return? Be honest. At the very least we expect a “thank you,” don’t we? In some cases we might be owed a favor, a cash payment or maybe even more – depending on the task we’ve completed. We have grown up believing that nothing is free and our time is worth something. Our talents shouldn’t be taken advantage of and being grateful is expected. While these statements are true, I would like to look at our “doing” – or our “serving” – if you will, from a different vantage point. Our attitudes and the condition of our hearts matter whether we are doing a job we got hired to do or if we are helping a friend or family member. Can we serve in a sincere manner, regardless of recognition, accolades, expectations or praise? Can we do the work set before us in such a way that others might see Jesus through us?
Let’s look at the parable Jesus taught about unworthy servants and ask Him to help us understand how this applies to us and our work today:
“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’ Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’?Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 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.’” (Luke 17:7-10)
I’ve read this parable before, or I should say, I read over this parable before. It didn’t seem as pertinent compared to the others I had studied. The deep meanings and the descriptive texts of other parables seem to keep my attention longer. And also, this one feels a little raw? Does Jesus mean “I” am an unworthy servant? Seriously, Jesus, that isn’t a very nice thing to say. Yet, He says it. It is in these scriptures we must take notice. Why does He say this? My opinion is that every word written in the Bible is important. God doesn’t waste space on a page just to fill it. He says what He wants us to hear, to see, to learn and to obey. So, that means every parable has purpose and should be understood as best we can. So, are we unworthy servants? Yes, we are. We are women and men who fall short every day. We make mistakes and we mess things up. We hurt people and people hurt us. We don’t always heed God’s word and we forget what Jesus did for us. Have you forgotten?
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)
“And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:38 ESV)
Jesus was perfect. He was sinless, yet He died for all of us. He took our sin upon Himself so that we could be “worthy” or “righteous” in the eyes of God. My heart is overcome with gladness at the fact that He saw me as worth saving. But, my heart aches from the suffering He had to endure because of me. I must admit I am definitely unworthy for the gift of grace that was given to me. I need a proper mindset of who I am and who God is. I am the servant and He is the Master. Just because I do good things or try harder not to sin doesn’t mean God owes me anything. He has already paid the highest price. He calls me to follow Him, to listen to Him, to obey Him and to love Him. I cannot follow half way and be called a follower. I need to do all the work. In other words, I need to adhere to all His teachings not just some. The beauty of Jesus is apparent through the gift of forgiveness. He washed us clean and restored us.
Let us not get hung up on the words used in scripture. Unworthy. Servants. Instead, let us choose to love God with our whole mind, strength, soul and heart. A clean heart – a sincere heart bent before His holy throne.
“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 10:23 ESV)
We need to remind ourselves of this parable often. May nothing stop us from being humble, faithful and sincere servants of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Holding Fast to Hope,