Unworthy Servants

Luke 17:5-10
Leamington 1/24/94

Songs that fit the Theme:
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
Revive us again

I just read Dawson Trotman's testimony in the little pamphlet "Born to Reproduce." Again I was moved and my heart was convicted. What are we here for and what are we doing about it? I am sure that at times you too have been overwhelmed with the responsibility that God has give to us that of reaching our town for Christ and helping to reaching the world for our wonderful omnipotent God. I often wonder how will it all be accomplished? What part in God's great strategy do I play?

Today, we would like to look at the need for an active faith which does not give up nor becomes proud.

We probably all feel like the apostles who, in verse 5 of our text in Luke chapter 17, exclaimed "Increase our faith." This exclamation was in response to two things that Christ had commanded them first that they never be stumbling blocks to anyone or lead others astray. and second that they maintain a corrective and forgiving attitude. The disciples are asking God to give them a larger, firmer grasp on the eternal truths that are so vital in evangelism and godly living. Luke records that on this occasion Jesus told them that a small faith would be able to command the sycamine tree to be uprooted and be cast into the sea. It is not certain exactly what kind of tree the sycamine tree is but it is believed to be like a black mulberry with a fruit on it like a fig. The rabbis taught that its roots would remain in the earth for six hundred years. For Christ to say, "Be uprooted" was asking for the impossible. On another occasion recorded in Mark 11:23 Jesus said just a little faith could move mountains.

(Morgan) In Italy there is an interesting grave. An enormous block of granite was brought and placed there by order of the man who was buried underneath it. Before he died, he arranged to have a huge block of granite to be placed over his tomb so that if there ever was a resurrection, it might be certain that he should never rise! We smile at the ignorance of that unbeliever but the story does not end there. Between the time the man was buried and the time that this block of granite weighing tons was place over his burial site it seems that a bird flying overhead dropped an acorn on the tomb. You guessed it. They placed that granite slab over the acorn and that little acorn grew straight up though it into a mighty oak splitting that enormous granite block in two. You might have weights like that granite slab crushing you but if you have faith as a mustard seed, God can use your faith and split that rock in two giving you victory. We are not to have a dead faith but a living faith that moves mountains.

In Japan a missionary started an orphanage for homeless children after the second world war. Many children wanted to come to the orphanage but there was no more room. Behind the house on the property was a huge hill that stood in the way of expansion. During devotions they read the passage in Matthew 21:21,22, "You can say to this mountain, `Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.'' The missionary prayed with the children that the mountain be remove and be cast into the sea. A contractor came to visit the missionary and asked if he could take down that mountain behind the orphanage. He needed land to fill in an area they were reclaiming from the sea. God had the mountain removed into the sea and the orphanage was able to expand to help more lost and destitute children.

What kind of mountains are there in your life? Have you had any removed? We came back from Japan about 4 1/2 years ago with a couple of mountains that needed to be cast into the sea. We felt like one of those huge granite slabs was crushing us but we planted an acorn. The tree is growing. It is still a tender tree but the slab is cracked and the tree is pushing though. We still have another mountain that is standing in the way and we do not know how God will remove that mountain. We are praying in faith that God will move in a mighty way to remove all obstacles to be able to continue in ministry.

Jesus promised that we would be able to do even greater things than he did while he was on earth. God does work in wonderful ways. When you see such super answers to prayer we could easily be overcome with spiritual pride but Jesus' parable in verses 7 - 10 remind us of our position in Christ, -- that of a slave. Many have accepted responsibilities in the church for the coming year and we want to reaffirm you in your decision to serve the Lord through this congregation. Service that looks for reward is selfish. Yet how often is our motivation for rewards - to get a crown of glory in heaven. Most of us will be lucky to get in. I suspect that most of our work will be burned - it is that of wood, hay and stubble. We do very little of eternal significance. In the average week, how much time to do take to serve the Lord. How much time do we take to pamper ourselves with worldly pleasures - the football games, that special TV program or video we just have to watch, that social activity with no eternal value. Where do our priorities lie?

Jesus speaks of the slave that has worked all day ploughing the fields or tending sheep. There are those who see a deeper meaning to Jesus' parables. The ploughing of the fields could be interpreted as those who go out and break up the fallow ground. They are out in the world speaking to unbelievers preparing the soil for the seeding and eventually the harvest. There are those who are busy for the Lord tending the sheep, leading them in to the spiritual pastures for feeding their souls. Both activities are challenging and exhausting. To come home and serve after a trying time of service only to be faced with more responsibility is sometimes overwhelming but Jesus says that we should not expect the reward of thanks or feeding. It is not enough just to sow. There are many who call themselves Christians who don't even get out of the comfort of their homes to serve the Lord. These are the unprofitable servants to who Jesus had even greater condemnation Mt 25:26 ``His master replied, `You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?

When believers have received the gift of a living faith they are able to perform glorious things in His service, there is great danger that they may become self-satisfied and may think themselves entitled to special marks of honour. Such an attitude, however, is quite wrong and sinful. In ordinary life it is unthinkable that, after a servant has completed his daily task, his master will invite him to set by his side at table and will attend upon him and praise him as though he deserved special rewards and honours for the mere execution of his duties. How much less has a man the right to demand, even if he has done everything he ought to do ( and no one is capable of this), that he should be honoured and rewarded by God in a special manner as if he were such a meritorious and indispensable person in His service!

Verse 10: for this reason also, when believers have been enabled to carry out their charges loyally, they must continue to be humble under the profound realisations that all their love, strength, time and faithful service rightly belong to the Lord and that they may lay no claim to honour or reward. What GOD does indeed give in the way of "rewards" He gives purely out of grace and not because man could ever deserve it. Where it is His command that we must be so humble, even if we have done everything we ought to have done, how much more necessary is it for us to live in true meekness - grateful and happy on account of the privilege of being allowed to serve Him.

God has gifted every believer with at least one spiritual gift to be used for His kingdom. Have you discovered God's gift for you? Have you been faithful in using God's resources for His glory and praise?

Barclay says, " We can never put God in our debt and can never have any claim on him. When we have done our best, we have done only our duty. It may be possible to satisfy the claims of law; but every lover knows that nothing can ever satisfy the claims of love.

What kind of person are you? Some of you have not yet become a true servant. You have never dedicated your life to the service of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I would encourage you to turn your life over to God, your creator, and burn out for Him.

Those that have dedicated your life to God, "Lift your tourches high so that the world which is in darkness can see your light and find the way to our wonderful and glorious Saviour. Let us not be unprofitable servants nor unworthy servants but let us be people of which God will be proud to call us his children.

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