“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”
(Luke 17:7-10 ESV)
I know when I come home from a hard day at the office, I look forward to my servant being properly dressed and serving me in the manner in which I deserve.
Now before you look for the “Unsubscribe” button – I’m not talking about Melanie! Just a little sarcasm to show that sometimes it’s hard to picture some of the cultural references in scripture, but let’s try and unpack this a bit.
Back in those days, people had servants and it was their job, duty, and responsibility to serve their masters. The master didn’t have to ask nicely and say “please,” the servant didn’t have to be convinced or asked to serve, it was expected and required that they serve their master. That’s just they way it was.
Picture God – we are human, finite, sinful. God is not human, infinite, and perfect. Like it or not we are the “servants” in this story. Hear this: God is the master and God owes us nothing. In fact, let me say it again: God owes us nothing. For years I think I struggled to understand this, it is so deeply ingrained in our culture that we think we are consistently owed something, we deserve the best always. We even have our current generation named the “Entitlement Generation.” I know it’s hard to understand with all that “entitlement” we feel – but God doesn’t owe us anything people. He didn’t have to create us, he was perfectly fine all by himself. We owe God everything! Our very breath! The zillions of things that our bodies are doing right now in all it’s systems to sustain you right this very minute, by His design. He created us to worship him…now be careful here too, he doesn’t “need” us to worship him. He is not an egomaniac who created people just to worship him – he created us as the Westminster Catechism says “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” God gives joy and fulfillment like nothing on this Earth can, why? Because he created us all with a need for him, and that need can only be satisfied by him, and he satisfies us forever!
However, we all have turned from him and tried to find satisfaction in things other than God. This is the essence of sin – trying to find satisfaction in something God has created rather than the Creator himself. (Rom 1:24-25) God in his wisdom and foreknowledge knew we would do this, so he, in advance, established his Son Jesus to be our reconciliation to him. Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross for our sins paid the debt we couldn’t pay to God for us (trying) finding satisfaction in sin. Jesus’ perfect life of obedience here on Earth is then credited to us – God sees us as righteous, forgiven, blameless, without accusation before him — in Christ. This is our new identify in Christ. Turn to God in Christ – not sin. Drink the living water and never be thirsty again. Come to him and he will give you rest.
If you have faith in Christ, rest in your new identify — but don’t forget, you are still an “unworthy servant” only having done your duty in grateful response to God who has graciously given us everything in Christ. (Rom 8:32)