The Unprofitable Servant
READ Luke 17:7-10
Godís people, who are saved by His grace, are to be servants. Beloved, also I understand from other passages of Scripture that we are more than servants. We are friends because Jesus our Lord tells us all things that He has heard of His Father (John 15:15), yet if we are His friends, we will do whatsoever He commands us (John 15:14). We are also Godís children, and heirs of God in Christ, therefore we are higher in status than mere servants in His eyes, yet as children of God, we are to be obedient children (1 Peter 1:14).
In any regard, we are to be servants of the Lord, especially in our own eyes as we serve the Lord in this world. This was taught by our Lord in all four gospels. The New Testament writers including Paul, James, Peter, Jude, and John all referred to themselves as servants of God and of Jesus Christ in their writings. Often times in the New Testament, believers in general are referred to as servants of God and of Jesus Christ.
Therefore because we are servants of God, we want to notice several aspects of a servantís duties and life from our text.
1. First we want to see the servants duties and work (READ verse 7).
1. A servants work is hard, labor intensive.
First, much of the servantís work is performed outside in the fields:
In our text, the servant spent his day laboring in the fields. Beloved, we should expect most of the work of the Lord to be outdoors, that is, outside the four walls of Godís House. In reality, most of the service of the Lord is performed outside, in the fields of the world. This service involves sowing the seed as we preached about this morning, or tending to the sheep of the Lordís pasture. In some church houses Iíve seen signs above the door of the sanctuary, ďEnter to worshipĒ, and ďExit to serveĒ, or something like that.
Well beloved, farming in those days was very hard work. They used hand plows or an oxen drawn plow, which both were labor intensive. Cultivating, and sowing, and watering were all done manually by hand, and were all hard work. Feeding cattle, or tending sheep as some interpret this passage, was laborious, tedious, aggravating, and dirty work.
I donít want to spend much time here, but suffice it to say that a servantís work is expected to be hard work. As servants of the Lord, expect serving the Lord to be hard at times. Expect to exert energy and effort; we might even have to sweat from time to time. Expect the work to be tedious and even aggravating and frustrating at times. I know I am talking to preachers especially, but to every servant of the Lord this is true.
Now, in old times this outdoor servitude began before sunrise, and lasted till sunset. These servants knew what a sunrise looked like; they saw it everyday. And work was done in the heat of the day, and in all kinds of elements and climates. The work had to be done no matter what, you see.
As servants of the Lord, the work must go on. Rain or shine, hot or cold, in the summer of our lives, or in the deep, dark winters, the work goes on. Servants donít retire until they expire!!!
Next, the servantís work includes the domestic duties of caring for His Masterís house (verses 7-8):†
The servant was responsible to prepare and serve his masterís meals. And what kind of meals do you suppose the Master would expect, and accept from his servant? The servantís duties also included all the domestic duties of maintaining and cleaning his masterís house.
Well, I would liken this kind of work to the services in the Lordís House, which is His Church. The pastors and teachers prepare meals to serve to the Godís saints. I believe we ought to spend much time in preparation of our lessons and sermons. It might not always be evident beloved, but your pastor spends a good deal of time preparing your spiritual meals to serve you in Godís House.
And there are many other things to be done for the services in the Lordís House. There are many preparations to be made if we are to do it right, and there are many people involved. Beloved, if I understand this parable correctly, every servant involved in serving in the Lordís House, should put the Lordís House and His service before everything else in our lives.
Only after that we have made certain that all of our preparations and all our service in the Lordís House is complete, does He bid us to take care of our personal needs and wants. But mind you, this is only after weíve completed our service to Him. Beloved, what unprofitable servants we are at times!
And so weíve seen that the Lordís work can be hard and long, and that our service to the Lord comes before everything else in our lives. This is the nature of a servantís duties and work, and beloved, we are called to be servants to our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. Secondly this evening we want to notice the servantís life.
1. Servants belong to their masters.
In Bible times servants were bought with a price or they were taken as a payment for a debt, or else they were taken captive in battle, and therefore the master owned them.
Likewise the Lord owns us, as He bought us with a price (1 Cor. 6:19-20, 7:23). And we are debtors to His mercy, love, and grace for saving our miserable souls from hell. And we were taken captive in battle, as it were, when we were delivered from the power of Satan and of darkness, and were translated into the kingdom of His dear Son. (Col. 1:13).
2. Servants are not there own.
Servants are not in control of their lives to do with as they please, but they are to be under subjection and obedience to their masters. Servants are not their own boss. They are not in the driverís seat of their lives, so to speak.
Likewise Christians are not their own boss. We are not in control of our lives, but we are to be under subjection and obedience to our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.
He owns us and we are subject to obey His every command. But sometimes we like to try and test our Master. We sometimes disregard His commandments. Sometimes we throw off the yoke of His Lordship, and His control on our lives. And it may even seem like we get by with our rebellion against our Master, but we havenít seen the end of the story yet!
Beloved, please hear me tonight, it is a dangerous thing to trifle with God, and to rebel against the Lord of Lords. We wonít get by with it, but the Lord will bring all of these things into judgment. Its just a matter of time before He calls us to give account of our service. Jesus taught this in the parable of the pounds, and the parable of the talents, and other places. May we have ears to hear tonight!
3. All of a servantís possessions belong to their master.
Not only does the servant belong to their master, but all that they own also belongs to him as well. The master gives his servants all that they have. Their food, and clothes, and their shelter. All of a servantís possessions belong to their master to use as He sees fit.
Is that not true of us, and of our Master the Lord Jesus Christ? He gives us all that we have; our food, our clothes, our shelter; all things we have come from Him. And beloved, we are to use these as He sees fit, to honor and glorify Him and not to please ourselves.
I could spend all night on this point, but how do we use our money? The Lord gives us everything we have, but do we give back the tenth that He requires of us for His work? Or do we spend the Lordís blessings on useless frivolities, and sinful pleasures, and the vanity fare of this world, and fail to give to His work? Shame, for shame doc!!!
4. All of a servantís time belongs to their master.
24/7, as we say, the servantís time belongs to his master. A servant was not in charge of scheduling his own time, but his master scheduled all his days, and the hours in his days.
Beloved, this is where the servants of Jesus Christ really like to make exception. But since when does the Bible give us license to schedule our time to forsake the Lordís House? Now beloved, when we miss the services in the Lordís House, especially on the Lordís Day, as His minister I cannot excuse your absence.
What I mean is this, when we miss church, each one of us must give an account to the Lord of our absence. You must give an account to Him for it, and not to me. I might excuse you, but the Lord might not excuse you, and might punish you sore! On the other hand, I might not excuse you and yet the Lord might excuse you. The Lord knows our hearts. He knows our thoughts and our motives. He knows whether our heartís desire is to be in His House and to serve Him or not.
Beloved, I try not to be too hard on folks for missing services for work, or for other reasons, but I fear that the Lord might be much harder on you than I am when you miss. If I am His messenger and I fail to warn you about these things, then what kind of friend am I to you, and what kind of pastor am I?
Those of you who have to miss a lot of church for work, I am concerned about you. I know that, regardless of the reason for missing church, it is not good for you. We need the Lordís Church. We all need to be in church for the good of our souls. Iím afraid that in the long run you will lose far more than you stand to gain in the short haul. Please think and pray about this, and I will pray for you about it. I am not preaching this to make anyone mad, trust me. I love and care for you, as one who watches for your soul!
Those who just plain miss the services in the Lordís House without even a good excuse, there can be no question about their misuse of their Masterís time. I donít follow church members around to see where they were when they missed church, but the Lord knows where they were, what they did, and why they missed His House.
There are many other ways that we can misuse the time the Lord has given us. We can spend it on the vanity fare of pleasures in this world. We can spend it in front of the TV or the computer, or out in the world doing things that dishonor the name of our Master. Americans, as Iíve said before, are professional time wasters, and Christians are no exception to this. But may we not forget, beloved, we will give an account of the use of the Lordís time that He gives us.
3. We have a Good Master!
Iím glad to report this evening, that our Master is not a harsh or cruel taskmaster, yet beloved, He is our Master just the same. He is our Master and our Lord, so may we not abuse His goodness and His mercy to His servants. But at the same time, Iím glad that He is good, and that He is pitiful, and merciful, and longsuffering toward His people.
He doesnít demand more of us than we are able to perform, yet He does make demands. May we not take advantage of His leniency and His light demands upon us. Yes, His yoke is easy, and His burden is light, but may we in turn endeavor to meet or exceed His light demands. But I am thankful that our Master is more than fare with us, and that He doesnít demand more us of than we are able to perform.
Our service to our Master works out for our ultimate good and blessings. Most servants receive only the bare necessities of life from their masters. But we receive not only our necessities, but also the abundance of blessings, far over and above what we deserve, both in this life and in the life to come. Yes beloved, we serve Him in our lifetimes, but in the final tally of our service, we receive a billion times more than we ever give back in service to Him. Oh, what unprofitable servants we really are!
Not only this, but our Master has even made us heirs of His estate. He has given each one of us an inheritance. He has divided to each one of us, a piece of that promised land in glory. Its already staked out. The survey is complete and recorded in that great Records Office in glory, so to speak. It wonít be changed, it can never be annulled. It is sure and steadfast, and reserved in Heaven for us.
Yes, beloved, our Master is good to His servants!
4. Fourthly and finally, we are just unprofitable servants (verse 9-10).
At best, beloved, we are all just unprofitable servants. There is nothing that we give our Master that He needs from us. There is no good thing that we have to offer Him that He doesnít already own.
At best beloved, we are all unprofitable servants some of the time, and the rest of the time weíre a pain in our Masterís neck, so to speak. Well, Iím just kidding, but may we never think that we are anything in and of ourselves. Jesus told His disciples this parable because they got a little too big for their britches at times, and needed to be humbled. Beloved, we all need to be brought into our rightful perspective to our Lord and Master from time to time, lest we think too highly of ourselves.
May God help us to see that we are servants, and help us to see our place of service in His Church. And as we serve Him, may we serve Him humbly, realizing that at our best we are just unprofitable servants.
Finally, may the Lord help us to realize and to appreciate what a good Master that He is.