Today’s reading: Luke 17-18.
This world is the place of service; we are not to be expecting to have the festival here. The great supper comes at the end of the day. This is the time for us to serve, even as Jesus did when he was here; and we are to serve right on till the close of the day, even as Jesus did. – Charles Spurgeon
Pride is one of the three main temptations in life, along with pleasure and possessions. Jesus warned his disciples not to become swollen with pride as a result of their work with him. He knew they would be tempted because of the miraculous things they were doing, and would do, through the Holy Spirit. He wanted them to keep a servant’s heart instead of feeling super-spiritual.
“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’? Would 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’? Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So 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
The story of the servants points out several truths:
- Jesus’ disciples remain servants or slaves. Before they were slaves to sin; now they are servants of God.
- We shouldn’t expect God to thank us for serving him; instead we should be thankful for the grace he has shown us.
- It is our duty to serve God. This gives some needed perspective to the argument about faith and works. Our faith saves us, but it is our duty to serve God after we are saved. A duty is a task that is required. It is an obligation.
To confirm the importance of gratitude, Luke immediately tells the story of Jesus healing ten lepers. Only one leper returned in gratitude after Jesus removed their disease. Jesus was shocked that the other nine did not express their thanks. In a sense they had a duty or obligation to show their gratitude. Instead they ran off with thoughts of themselves only.
Here are some characteristics of servants that we should model:
- Servants live to please their master and do his will, not their own.
- Servants don’t expect thanks for doing their job, but are grateful for the provision their master makes for them.
- Servants can follow the example of Jesus, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:6-8
- Jesus said that whoever would be great must be a servant. The commendation we will receive in heaven is for being “a good and faithful servant.”
The institutional church’s idea of a servant of God is not at all like Jesus Christ’s idea. His idea is that we serve Him by being the servants of others. Jesus Christ actually “out-socialized” the socialists. He said that in His kingdom the greatest one would be the servant of all. The real test of a saint is not one’s willingness to preach the gospel, but one’s willingness to do something like washing the disciples’ feet— that is, being willing to do those things that seem unimportant in human estimation but count as everything to God. It was Paul’s delight to spend his life for God’s interests in other people, and he did not care what it cost. But before we will serve, we stop to ponder our personal and financial concerns— “What if God wants me to go over there? And what about my salary? What is the climate like there? Who will take care of me? A person must consider all these things.” All that is an indication that we have reservations about serving God. But the apostle Paul had no conditions or reservations. Paul focused his life on Jesus Christ’s idea of a New Testament saint; that is, not one who merely proclaims the gospel, but one who becomes broken bread and poured-out wine in the hands of Jesus Christ for the sake of others. – Oswald Chambers
Image, “The Idle Servant,” by Nicolaes Maes