DID YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A USELESS AND AN UNWORTHY SERVANT OF CHRIST?
- The secret of the missionary is—I am his, and he is carrying out his enterprises through me. Be entirely his (Oswald Chambers)
- The gospel depends on a God who does not depend on you (Matthew Barret)
- The more power one exercises, the greater the temptation to use that power for one’s personal agendas (Jim Denison)
- Crying for mercy is a recognition that blaming God, the world, or others for our losses does not do full justice to the truth of who we are (Henri Nouwen)
- The Christian life starts with grace, it must continue with grace, it ends with grace (Bethany L. Jenkins)
- If you will not be convinced that God is good to you, your faith is useless and you will never experience his goodness in your life. You will crawl in the darkness when you could be dancing in the light (Paul Ellis)
- No one will listen to Christians calling the society to more just social relationships if within the church itself those relationships are just as flawed and unjust (Tim Keller)
- The institutional church’s job was to make disciples rather than to change society, but it had to form disciples in such a way that they went out into the world to do justice (Abraham Kuyper)
TEXT: Luke 17: 7 “Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? 8 Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? 9 Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 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.’
After a long day’s work, the whole body and mind long for rest, time out of that which had consumed attention. There is no time to rest for the Christian. This is true even when a people have had a highly contested democratic campaign, where some were fasting and praying, others were persuading people on who would be the better candidate, others had to spend sleepless nights determining whether the process was credible. It is at such a time that a believer is reminded that it is not yet time to rest or retire. What Jesus taught is that the servant coming from the field does not rest; instead he turns attention to meet the needs of the master. What makes this possible is a healthy understanding of who one is in relation to the master and the assignment. Listen to the words of the Lord Jesus Christ ‘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 7:10). ‘You’ is referring to Jesus’ disciples. Sometimes the word Christian has been used as reference to a social group that gathers on a given day of the week. ‘And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch’ (Acts 11:26). ‘A disciple is a person who has decided that the most important thing in their life is to learn how to do what Jesus said to do (Dallas Willard). While everyone else takes a break, Jesus disciples remain working.
UNDERSTANDING SELF AS A WORTHLESS SERVANT
Self- value/worth -How one sees himself is so important because it is what inclines one to act. How do you see yourself? As a valued son of the Most High God purchased through the blood of Christ or a child of a lesser god who has to remain subordinate? The concept of being purchased for God is key to understanding of self. “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation (Revelation 5:9); ‘you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.’ (1 Corinthians 6:20). No matter how hard working, prayerful, diligent one is, it is not possible to pay the debt that has enabled one to be a child of God. A Christian is one who has known that he /she was destined for eternal lostness until Christ came. ‘and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins’. (Colossians 1:12 -14). The worth of a believer cannot be evaluated by his activities but by the price paid to have the person change status.
Unworthy not useless servant- An unworthy servant can be taken to mean a servant who is not worthy by merit, qualification, ability or social status, but he is only worthy by factors all dependent on the appointing authority. That then means one who is because of what Christ has done has no role in setting terms of service. It is a privilege to be a servant of the living God. Service for God is not intrinsically meritorious so that one can have a list to tick what has been done. To be an unworthy servant is to show that all the zeal manifested by the Christian in discharging his/her duty does not put God under any obligation to the Christian by any sort of merit. A genuine Christian understands that he/she is God’s property, and so is owed nothing. It is humbling truth that God does not need us; yet he has given us the privilege of serving him. If God is not independent of us, he is not worthy, qualified, or able to save us let alone to receive worship and praise. The worth of a believer is in how you become the child of God. A useless servant is one whose knowledge of the Master is warped up (Matthew 25:24-30). Such include some who call themselves men of God. ‘To speak against the man of God is to bring a curse on yourself and your children. When you hear people speaking against a man of God, move away from there. “Men of God don't just talk. When they speak, God is forced to move’. To assume an elevated status because of the people handle can be deceptive. To turn round and start using the gifts and opportunities that God has given as the source of one’s value is to be a useless servant. Have you heard of ‘man of God’ whose bible has to be carried by an arm bearer, special treatment? That is risking being a useless servant and an abuse of the privilege of accessing God’s grace and mercy. An unworthy servant is fully conscious of who is being served because one is aware of the undeserved mercy and desires to have the character of Christ and imitate His works. To feel entitled makes you a useless servant not an unworthy one .One has to refuse the human instinct which often gets blended with pride swaying those who serve to consider people’ opinion rather than consider the calling to serve until he comes or calls one home.
Unique – Each Christian has a specific role that he/she is the only one who can fulfill. Issues of comparison with others may be a sign of not recognizing one's status. As a Christian, one is irreplaceable and so should give up the temptation that traps one as a bookkeeper of work done. All attention should be on the Master and ears attentive to His word. Achievements as evaluated by human standards are destructive. To get concerned about the time investment in the work can lead to self-pity; instead, let the Master keep the records. Listen to His word when he says, ‘do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing’ (Matthew 6:3). If you have spent hours fasting and praying or giving of yourself in teaching and other good works, it is time to ask the Master to assign you other duties. Look around and keep working, aware that, ‘Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you’ (Matthew 6:4). Unworthy servant is not termed as so for being so but it is a call to serve with utmost humility. There is no place for self-aggrandizement and self-glorification. No one becomes a servant of God by what they believe they can do: it is not about what the servant has done/can do or can't do, rather, it is what has already been done by Christ. So then, endeavor to avoid conceit.
MOTIVATION OF THE UNWORTHY SERVANT
Recognition of rest – Those in the service of the Master have already attained rest. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11: 28 -30). One who has found rest that Christ gives has a sense of vision and mission that arises from the relationship. When rested one is able to learn and know the issues and alternatives. Lack of knowledge is not an excuse to remain inactive. Learn how to learn as you rest with the Master. Health, media, education systems, agriculture, justice, entertainment, trade, gathering together as believers and as community members are some of the areas of learning of one who has found rest. A person who has found rest in Christ has excellence as a lifestyle; is dependable, trustworthy, innovative and has good interpersonal relationships since doing all that for God’s glory .
Discipleship – The first responsibility of an institutional church is to create space for believers to encourage one another and be mature as Jesus' disciples. Through the reading of the word, sharing testimonies, singing hymns and choruses and breaking bread, the disciples are equipped to evangelize, do justice and be actively engaged in what translates as light and salt of the world. ‘Discipleship is more than getting to know what the teacher knows. It is getting to be what he is’. (Juan Carlos Ortiz). Jesus Christ who came to show the way said “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.”(John 5:17).That is why a Christian who has submitted to the lordship of Christ cannot be off duty as long as he/she has the breadth of life.
Accountability – It is a trap to assume that one is accountable to people only. Thomas Paine argues that a body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody. The truth is that those who are to hold them accountable are also fallen people who need to be held accountable themselves. The politics of tolerance and desire to be accepted and celebrated worsens the problem. ‘But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person’ (John 2:24 -25). That is why an unworthy servant has to seek accountability from the only One who needs no accountability, the Living God.
A Christian who has taken Jesus' yoke cannot be off duty. Whether one is battling with deep pain that is caused by loss or basking in joy of attaining what was desired, whether in sickness or health, in office and out of office, young or old, male or female, a Christian should realize he /she is on duty always. God’s servant is expected to invest that which God has given. Excellence in thought, word, and deed is a trait associated with one who knows what it is to be an unworthy servant. Peter was tired, hungry and sleepy when he got divine insight that required him to break limits and go to an unfamiliar territory (Acts 10). ‘While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate’ (Acts 10:17). No time to process the daydream. God had placed the demand and in obedience things became clearer. To come to terms with the fact that it is not possible to do anything that compares with what Christ has done is what gives one a healthy self- assessment. Maturing servants of God think of themselves as less than nothing. The desire to leave a legacy, make a name that can be remembered, are distractions to one who understands the privilege of being in God’s vineyard. In this life, the least one can do in the light of what Christ has done is to serve. Whether you are making decisions about which leaders to support or evaluating the influence you carry in your own circles, how intentional are you in valuing the evidence of the Spirit’s life over other priorities? What difference does the awareness that there is nothing you can do to compare with what Christ has done make in your daily life?
‘Biblical justice is not first of all a set of bullet points or a set of rules and guidelines. It is rooted in the very character of God and it is the outworking of that character, which is never less than just’ (Tim Keller)