I. The Master’s Expectations – No time off, no extra help, no thanks deserved. (7-9)
Work for Jesus as if you were His only servant! Sometimes we think we are the only ones working for Jesus! It does not matter what other Christians are doing for Jesus. It does not matter what other Christians are not doing for Jesus. Serve for an audience of One.
The servant’s job description has a line at the bottom: “anything Jesus wants you to do!” From salvation to the grave I walk beneath an all-encompassing, overarching firmament of duty to serve.
We expect rewards. We love to be loved, give to receive, and work to be paid. We project that on God. We store up a spiritual savings account to draw on. Is there no compensation for doing my duty? Our prayers become a negotiation with God to cut the best deal we can.
We must see the difference between choosing to serve and choosing to be a servant! When we choose to serve, we are still in charge. We decide whom we will serve and when. But when we choose to be a servant, we give up the right to be in charge. Servants must give up all rights! We must serve Jesus in the basement, if that is his will, as much as in the bay window.
Take my pop quiz of Servanthood:
- Is there anything you won’t do for the Lord?
- Is there anyone you won’t serve?
- Is there anyone you won’t permit to serve you?
If you answer “yes” to any one of those three questions, you are not a servant.
II. The Servant’s Motivation. (10)
God doesn’t need me! Oh how I resist that! It’s not in my nature to think like that. We all must learn how to view humility not as an unwelcome intruder, but as the spouse of our soul to whom we have wedded ourselves forever.
When Jesus said we are “unworthy,” he used a word in Greek that means literally “without need,” as in dispensable, expendable. Jesus may be using a word play on the commercial associations of the cognate noun chreios which means “debt.” As respects the obligations in v.9, we should say: “We are servants who are now debt-free” — in the sense that God owes us nothing!
The main point of Jesus’ statement is — Service does not entitle you to a reward.
No one, no matter how hard working, can ever put God in his/her debt.
Rewind to The Parable of the Watchful Servants in Luke 12:35-38. This is the twin brother parable with a brighter face! It concludes with the socially unthinkable in Jesus’ day: the master seats the servants and actually serves them – just the opposite of the Parable of the Unworthy Servant.
But fast forward to Luke 22:27 with Jesus and the disciples in the upper room. Jesus says: “who is the greater, the one who reclines or the one who serves? Surely the one who reclines. Yet I am among you as one who serves!”
The purpose of this parable is not to teach us in what spirit God deals with us, but in what spirit we should serve God:
- The Master’s Pleasure before mine
- The Master’s People before me
- The Master’s Service before self
The conditions of true discipleship are exhibited in this 3-fold essence of servanthood:
- 1) Proper Attitude toward Self – “say. . . we are unworthy slaves”
- 2) Proper Attitude toward Service – “we have done only our duty”
- 3) Proper Attitude toward Savior – “he does not thank the servant, does he?”
Even the donkey that brought Jesus into Jerusalem knew that the applause was not for him.