We are Unworthy Servants

Luke 17: 7-10
Tit 2:1-8, 11-14 / Ps 37

We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.
(Luke 17:10)

Serving the Lord is not a right,
It’s a privilege undeserved;
Spreading His Word is such delight,
Knowing the prize for us reserved.

“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’? 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’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 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 17: 7-10)


Today’s Gospel message tells us to serve the Lord with gladness, for He is our Great King, and we are merely His servants doing what we are expected to do. Many of us might think that it’s a quid-pro-quo arrangement with our Lord: If we are good and faithful servants, He will take care of our needs; otherwise, we will suffer for our sins or disobedience. But no matter how great our service for Him is, we can never be worthy of the good that He has done for us, nor merit the glory that awaits us.

Upon reflection, we find some lessons that our Lord Jesus tells us in this Gospel. First, when we are called to serve our church or community, we are not immune to the pains and trials in life under His employ. But take hope that our stripes will turn to our greatest joy when we finally spend eternal happiness for persevering in ministry.

Second, we cannot make any claim for merits earned or special entitlements for services rendered or missions accomplished. “For it is by God’s grace… This has not come from you, it is God’s gift, not by your works, so you are not to feel proud. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared for us to devote ourselves to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Third, servanthood is God’s loving way of keeping us away from the enticements of the world, and the all-consuming addiction to power and wealth. Jesus Christ said, “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Luke 16: 13). Being a servant of God frees us from the slavery of sin.

Yes, we are mere slaves that our Master can dispense with in any manner He pleases. But as Biblical history can attest, God never treated mankind the way an ordinary king regards his slaves. He has always treated us with great compassion and mercy. As Jesus Himself said, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I have learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).

Forgive us, Lord, for being presumptuous about our good works. Grant us the grace to better understand our duties and responsibilities as Your servants, so that even before You grant us our eternal reward, we may truly appreciate Your great love for us. Amen.

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