Summary: I want to be a good servant for Jesus, but in this passage Jesus says I can do all kind of great ministry and still be an "unprofitable servant." What two things does Jesus say can stop me from being the profitable servant for Chris that I want to be?
OPEN: The KJV translates Luke 17:10 this way: “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.’”
I don’t want to be an “unprofitable servant”.
I want to be a profitable servant for God.
So, what kind of things might I do to be useful to God?
What would you expect I’d have to do to be a “profitable” servant?
(allow audience time to respond)
That’s all great stuff!
Those are the kinds of things you’d expect from a profitable servant.
But then we encounter THIS verse that says you can do all the good things you want to do… and still not be profitable for God.
In this story Jesus tells us about a servant who works all day long out in the field, or out taking care of the flock. And after he works all day long, he comes into the house… and he doesn’t even get to set down and rest and eat his own meal. Instead, he is required to serve his master his meal FIRST. Then he can sit down and eat and rest.
And after doing all that work - all day long - there’s no word of thanks, no gratitude. And Jesus closes out this parable by saying that the servant was unprofitable because he only did what he was told to do.
Then Jesus says to us: When YOU have done everything you were commanded to do you should say “I’m an UNPROFITABLE servant. I’ve only done my duty.”
That’s not right!
I’ve been brought up to believe that if you put in a day’s work you should get a day’s pay. And I’ve read enough psychology to know that many workers NEED positive reinforcement. They need to know they’re appreciated. They need to hear that they’ve done a good job. Because no matter how much money a person is paid being appreciated is far more important to most people than how big their check is.
But here we have Jesus saying: “Sorry. You don’t get any “atta boys”. You don’t get any pats on the back. In fact you should just say, ‘I’m an unprofitable servant… I don’t deserve any praise!’”
That makes no sense to me.
And that’s why I picked this verse.
It doesn’t make any sense… and (as with all verses that puzzle me) I’ve learned something there – something intriguing – something I hadn’t thot about.
Now, whenever you run into a verse you can’t understand, that seems odd or out of place, the first thing you need to do is look at the context.
Context – is when you look at the verses around the verse you’re studying.
In this case, it appears that Jesus has just got done teaching some certain issues right before He made this comment about us being “unprofitable.” And that’s where I got my 1st clue to what Jesus was trying to teach us.
In the two previous verses we’re told:
“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’
He replied, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” Lu 17:5-6
What would my faith have to do with being a “profitable” servant?
Well, Hebrews 11:6 tells us “… without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who diligently seek him.”
Without faith, God will NOT be impressed with anything you or I do.
A person who works hard for Church - and yet has no faith -is an unprofitable servant.
ILLUS: A dramatic example of this kind of thing comes from an article I read some time back. Tufts University in Massachusetts did a study of preachers in different denominations. Apparently they asked them if they really believed what they were preaching. In response:
· One of the preachers revealed that “he no longer believes that God exists, but his church members do not know it”.
· Another preacher said he was not convinced of Christian teachings in Scripture but he continued to preach because “it’s the only way of life he knows.”
· Still another preacher declared that he didn’t believe in the Bible but he remains in the ministry “largely for financial reasons”
(Preachers who don’t believe? The Baptist Press 4/30/10 - cited on ChurchLeaders@nc.churchleaders.com 5/5/10)
Now… are these “supposed preachers” profitable servants for God? (No.)
They’ve got the titles and degrees, and congregations that look to them for guidance (or at least they sleep comfortably through their sermons). But these “preachers” are not profitable for God because they have no faith… none at all.