I read the book of Luke back in December. And I’m still clinging to one verse. I say it to myself almost every day. I think it’s going to be my verse for the year.
Jesus’ disciples have just said to him, “Increase our faith.” And He starts by telling them that faith the size of a mustard seed can uproot a mulberry tree and plant it in the sea.
Then He goes on with a little story about a servant who works all day in the fields, comes in, and still has to prepare and serve supper to his master before he can eat himself. And does the servant receive any thanks? No. He’s just doing his job, and why should he get thanked for doing what was his to do?
Then Jesus says:
“So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.'”
-Luke 17:10 NKJV
I find enormous comfort in those words.
I don’t have to do anything grand and wonderful. I don’t need a spotlight. I don’t have to be the smartest, or best, or most magnificent anything.
Every day, I just get up and do the things that I am commanded.
- Servanthood takes the pressure off. I don’t have to call the shots or plot great strategies. I just have to listen to what part I play in the plans.
- I’m not responsible for how things turn out. If I do what I’m told, the outcome’s not my fault. The result of my dutiful performance is His business.
- If I do the things I’m commanded, I don’t have to worry if I’m doing enough or not doing enough–just follow the instructions. There’s a sweet accomplishment and rest when I can simply do my duty.
- If my Master commands me to do something, He will also equip me to do it. I don’t have to worry about whether I’m “able” to do something. I have His resources at my disposal.
- And of course I’m unprofitable. Jesus spent His own blood to redeem me. No amount of service could ever in a million billion years repay what He spent, let alone more. So I don’t have to try.
Yes, I believe God sometimes gives us “large” things as part of our duty. But what’s big for me might not even look big to you. And that’s fine. It’s not about us.
It’s about getting the King’s work done.
When I love my family and friends (or strangers), when I wash the dishes, when I write another scene for a story, when I volunteer as a “gopher” at church, when I take vitamins to keep my body in good order, when I give my best effort at choir practice, when I read my Bible, when I pray for a friend’s prayer request on Facebook, do I get thanked? Of course not. Why should I?
But even so, these little things matter.
The English Standard Version, which I’m reading this year for the first time, calls us “unworthy servants” in Luke 17:10.
Which is another beautifully accurate descriptor. How in the world could we be worthy to serve the King of Kings?
But He is worthy. Of our service, our praise, our adoration. Of our love.
And this Master of ours, who is worthy of all glory, became a servant Himself.
The night before Jesus was crucified, He washed His disciples’ feet. Then He said,
“You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.
“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
“For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.
-John 13:13-16 NKJV
Our Lord both lived and died on behalf of His servants. Why should not we be willing to go as far?
Is there not joy in following the footsteps of our glorious, humble Master?
And what does all this talk about unprofitable servitude have to do with faith anyway?
Well, if you’re a servant with a good master, you can trust him to take care of you, to give good orders, to provide what’s necessary for carrying out your tasks successfully.
In other words, if we’ll quit looking at ourselves and look at our Master, our faith cannot help but grow.
Because He is worthy.