2017-09-24 – Luke 17.7-10 – Dutiful Servants – A New Paradigm
7 “Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? 8 Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? 9 Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’”
2017-09-24 – Luke 17.7-10 – Dutiful Servants – A New Paradigm
Good morning everyone. I am so pleased that you chose to spend the morning with us here today. Thank you and God bless you.
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This morning we are continuing in the sermon series on The Parables of Jesus. Last week’s message was about forgiveness and we read about the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant. We learned that if we truly desire to be more like Jesus, then we must forgive others for their trespasses against us because God has forgiven our trespasses against Him. Todays message is called Dutiful Servants – A New Paradigm. This is not an evangelical outreach message, but instead more of a Discipleship teaching type of message from Jesus
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Ten more to parables go in this series, while making room for thanksgiving and Christmas, then we will be starting something new. I am in active prayer about what is coming next, but I am considering the letters of John 1, 2 and 3.
Before we move into the parable this morning, I am going to start with an illustration about the inventor of Morse code and the telegraph.
Samuel Morse was born into a preacher’s home in New England just two years after George Washington was elected the first president of the United States. After finishing his education at Yale, he went to England to hone his painting skill. Upon his return to America he was recognized as a gifted artist and was soon in much demand. Morse’s first wife died while he was away from home painting in Washington, D.C. He did not receive the news until it was too late. In his heartbreak he turned away from painting and began trying to develop a means of rapid communication over great distances. This eventually led to his discovery of the telegraph.
Despite his fame and the many honors that came his way, Morse wasn’t proud or boastful. In a letter to his second wife he wrote, “The more I contemplate this great undertaking, the more I feel my own littleness, and the more I perceive the hand of God in it, and how He has assigned to various persons their duties, He being the great controller, all others His honored instruments…. Hence our dependence first of all on God, then on each other.” That is humble service, and that is what we are going to address today in this message.
Please turn in your Bibles to Luke 17:7, page 80 in the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God. But first let us Pray…
Last week, at the end of the service we talked a moment about how it takes all of us participating in order to make this church effective, healthy and relevant.
Being God’s servant involves showing the love of God through commitment and dedicated work, however I will be the first to admit that it is challenging sometimes to fit it all in, along with everything else on our busy schedules. It is now, as it was back in Jesus’ day as well. Coincidently the disciples asked in the verses that proceeds our verses today, how can anyone do that? “Give us more faith”. Have you ever deliberated on that? How can we fit all this Christian effort into our already busy lives? Hopefully we will be able to address that here today.
To start you out, after Jesus said they were to forgive each other seven times a day, reading in verse 5 of Luke 17 it reads, 5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” This shows their struggle to forgive, and forgive and forgive like we talked about last week, but I think it is more than that. It is the whole Christian paradigm that they were wrestling with. Jesus never said it was going to be simple, or fun all the time, in fact He said it would be difficult, and He frequently called them to task. Jesus was not only addressing their immediate needs, but also knowing what lies ahead, Jesus was preparing them for true ministry and a life of service.
But in Jesus’s response we can see that He recognized their issue was really not that they didn’t have enough faith, but instead turned it around and tried to convey to them that their small amount of faith was enough already.
6 “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,” the Lord said, “you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.
Remember the song “here we go around the mulberry bush”. The root structure of a mulberry bush or tree is very stout, big and strong, and it can live up to 600 years. Whereas the mustard seed was one of the smallest of seeds, and Jesus told them that they had enough faith already, but not making good use of the faith that they had. You see, what, or whom do you think is actually moving that mulberry tree in the first place. It isn’t you or your mustard seed amount of faith, it is God, and He can do anything.
Then Jesus said our parable that starts at verse 7: “Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? 8 Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? 9 Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded?
Now at first glance, this seems to be a pretty harsh response. You might be thinking, Shouldn’t Jesus have more compassion? However, may I suggest that the Disciples understood exactly what Jesus was talking about. Today our lives are so much different from theirs was that it is hard to sometimes wrap our minds around their situation. But if you change that word slave or servant in these verses, to worker it might be more meaningful to you. In this case, the worker was doing their job, doing just what they were getting paid to do. Their job here was like a hired hand. They would work the farm and they got their daily wages doing just what was expected of a hired hand. The duties here were plowing or tending sheep, but also to prepare the evening meal. That was their job; that was what they were expected to do.
Anyone here ever work as a hired hand for a farmer. What work did you do? My very first real paid position as a young lad was to help a farmer. My job was to do mostly anything that the famer needed. Now I didn’t prepare the evening meal, and I would doubt that would have been good for anyone, lol. But if he would have asked me to, I would have, because he was my employer. He signed my paycheck. I didn’t have any written job description or spelled out duties. I just worked at whatever the farmer wanted me to do until the day was done. And I didn’t ever expect that I would have been invited to their family dinner table either. Even though I spent many hard days picking things from corn to raspberries, I was never invited to his family dinner. And at your workplace, does your supervisor thank you for your daily duties? No. I was just doing my job. Now on occasion I would get a thank you, but not as part of my daily routine. That is what Jesus is addressing here. The slaves or servants were just doing their job.
Now don’t get this confused, this isn’t an example showing that the Lord God doesn’t appreciate our work, or that as a supervisor you shouldn’t show gratitude for the work your workers do. This parable teaching moment is more about our attitudes towards the work that God has prepared for us to do. Humble service.
In our culture today, I feel, we get rewarded or recognized just a little too much. Participation trophies or recognition is handed out for just about everything it seems. I am not suggesting that we shouldn’t recognize people for their good work, or that God doesn’t appreciate our work and our service, because He does indeed. In Matthew 10:42, Jesus said, “If you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.”
There are others verses that convey the same Godly recognition in both the Old and New Testaments
Proverbs 19:17 One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, And He will repay him for his good deed.
Matthew 25:40 ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these you did for Me.’
Hebrews 6:10 God is not unjust. He will not forget your work and the love you have shown for His name as you have ministered to the saints and continue to do so.
Recognition is good, especially when it comes from God. But the key point here is that God loves the humble servant. And we ought to be humble for we have given ourselves over to God because of what He has done for us. He is worthy of every bit of energy that we have available while we are on this earth. We do humble service because our heart is overflowing with gratitude. As Christians we are servants to the Lord on high, and as servants we do our job. See what Jesus says next in verse 10.
10 So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’”
This reminds me of the military men and women I have had the privilege of working with over the years. When you see them in their military uniforms, decorated up looking sharp and proud. Then you ask them about their medals on their chest, it is amazing to witness how humble a person can suddenly become. They frequently say things like, “I was just doing my job”, or “I was in the wrong place at the wrong time”. Such humble servants of our nation, and I am very proud to have serve alongside them. Then on the other side of the coin, on the streets we hear so much these day’s statements like “God owes me”, “The Government owes me”, or “my family owes me”. So sad to hear. God doesn’t owe us nothing, but instead God gives us everything. We owe Him our lives and our humble service. Jesus is addressing in our verses today, the proper attitude of Christian service. Because of what He has already done for us, we should desire to serve Him for the rest of our lives. He deserves the first and the best of what we have to offer, and we shouldn’t be sitting around waiting for thank you’s.
We will get our recognition in due time, but that is not why we should be doing our service works. Instead we should be doing what we can do, for as long as we can do, for whomever we can do, for the joy and pleasure of our Lord.
In this church, like was suggested last week, there are many tasks that have to be done in order that we could meet the needs of the church body, let alone the community and the larger missional work that God wants us to do. So many folks continue to step forward and offer humble service. Everything from teaching, music, cleaning, organizing, children and youth, cooking, decorating, administrative, caring, and security, just to mention a few. God wants these work efforts to be joyous and to provide you with a servant type opportunity to show your love for the Father. Service it tough sometimes, and it makes for much easier and enjoyable work when everyone participates. And we shouldn’t do it for recognition, we should do it with a humble and loving heart especially when it is difficult for us to do so.
There are many in this church that give of themselves in time and talent toward whatever is needed for the benefit of many and the joy of the Lord. But to be transparent, I also know there are some folks who don’t really want to serve. They just want to come and have fellowship and listen to a good message. And don’t get me wrong, those are great reasons in themselves. But God wants more for you. He wants you to be able to experience the joy of serving Him too. This should be the evidence or the fruit of what is inside our hearts. If Jesus is your Savior, you must recognize that He Himself was the Master Servant. He washed feet, He fed thousands, He healed, He comforted, and He encouraged and empowered. That was His joy, and He wants us all to own that same joy.
I find it interesting in our verses here how Jesus helped His Disciples understand how they could increase their faith. First He told them (in summary) that they only needed a tiny bit of faith because it is really God who performs the miracle in the first place. Then through this parable, Jesus introduces the idea that faith and humble service are interlinked. And just like your spiritual walk and relationship with the Lord through Jesus is a private and personal thing between you and God, so is the duty you render and the money you give and the prayers that you make, are all between you and the Lord alone. We should do all these things as a gracious and humble offering that is meant to bring you true joy.
Every person in the Church is significant and important. It’s normal for the ‘out front’ people to seem more important sometimes, but in God’s economy, all are essential, all are important! I have never seen my liver, kidneys or my pancreas, but if they don’t function, I know I’m in trouble! In the same way, this church couldn’t function without all of you either. I pray the Lord would help each of us function whole-heartedly in our gifts and abilities through humble service, and that you find the joy through that service and that your faith increase as a result.
I am going to give you a little piece of my own testimony in regards to this topic of servitude now.. Ladies and gentlemen, I know Jesus died for me. And because I have grown to believe that, I put my trust in Him, and as long as I am on the face of this Earth, I will serve Him. But even if I lived another hundred years, I couldn’t work out the cost for all my sin. I want to serve Him, His mission, His people and for His glory alone. If I could forgo sleep, I would do that. If I could be two or three places at one time, one of me would be here, one of me would be in India or Africa, and one of me would be in the slums of Detroit. In my heart I want to turn Kewanee upside down for the Lord. I want to reach the lost, minister to the children and comfort the oppressed. There is so much that I want to do but I know am limited. God has given me this Pastor position to capitalize on the resources and abilities of the members here to do His work. With your help we can change the world. Are you willing and able to come along?
So you might ask, what can I do? Maybe you are young and you don’t know what to do, then please ask. You may be older and limited physically, then pray and coach and encourage. You might feel you are way too busy at work and with family, then I would encourage you to consider making it more of a higher priority and maybe even a family affair. Maybe you’re a student, and not here regularly, then sharpen pencils and make sure the pews are orderly, open doors for guests, greet them with a smile. There are so many things to do. I invite you to consider, as it will help you increase your faith and joy in the Lord, as Jesus suggested here in this parable. He wants you to enjoy serving with a humble heart as He did so much.
Samuel Morse in the illustration we started with today, understood in his later years that God equipped him and helped him in the path of creating the telegraph that eventually lead to the telephone and even the internet. He connected people and got the message out. That is exactly what Jesus is trying to do with this parable today. He is trying to get the message out. And the message He has today is humble service is good. And God loves a humble servant.
[Alter Call & Prayer] – Please Stand..