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  • Writer's picturePastor Chad Hendley

We Are Unworthy Servants

Luke 17:7-10 “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’? [8] 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’? [9] Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? [10] 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.’”

Few passages in the New Testament are as humbling and so grate against modern sensibilities as this one. The servant/master relationship is one fraught with intensely negatively connotations to the modern, enlightened mind—and for some good reasons. But for Jesus, the relationship accurately describes our position with respect to God.

Note carefully the point being made. Jesus isn’t saying that God is just like the human master he describes. We know, for example, that though he doesn’t have to, God lavishes reward and praise upon those who faithfully serve him. But Jesus is saying that we are to take the posture of unworthy servants toward God because that is indeed what we are. I hear the cries now: What about self-esteem!? What about self-worth!? But biblically speaking, our meaning and identity and self-worth is not bound up in WHO WE are but WHOSE we are. For anyone who knows Jesus Christ, no reward, no praise, no adulation, no title compares in the slightest with “servant of Christ.”

All the apostles—those known as the greatest men in the church history—self-identified in their letters as servants of God and slaves of Christ. They wanted to be known by no other name. The sons of Korah remind us that “a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” (Psalm 84:10) If we had a thousand lifetimes to serve God—and were Billy Grahams, Charles Spurgeons, Lottie Moons, and Betsie ten Booms in every one of them—it would not be a drop in the ocean of what our Christ has done for us.

Would that we had 10,000 lives to serve him! No amount of labor for the Lord would be enough to thank him for what he’s done for us. Which makes it all the more incredible that he loved and served us before we had done a single thing for him. At its heart, Christianity is not about what we do for God, but what God has done for us. O Lord, we are unworthy servants. Our greatest obedience is doing nothing more than our duty. Would that we could do more!

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