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Sunday, October 22, 2017

posted Oct 22, 2017, 9:47 PM by Site Administrator

WE ARE UNWORTHY SERVANTS

 

Luke 17:1-10

Key Verse 17:10

 

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.'

 

       First, "So watch yourselves" (1-3a). In the previous passages, Jesus showed us how things go at the heavenly gate, and what happens when people die - people either go to the place of comfort or hell. And in view of this life after death, Jesus gave us a clear direction of how we must live our life as his disciples - we must live our life in the way that secures our eternal dwellings in heaven. How? By using our worldly wealth to gain friends for ourselves. Now those who believe in Jesus accept his teaching and struggle to do so - such people are those who live as Jesus' disciples. Jesus gives today's passage to them, showing them how they must live their life among themselves in the church. Jesus gives us three instructions about how to conduct ourselves among brothers and sisters in the church: "Cause no one to sin in the church," "Rebuke and forgive," and "Have the unworthy servant's attitude."

 

       Look at verse 1. Jesus said to his disciples, "Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come." "Things" that cause people to sin are the channels through which sin comes into people's lives. Also, "these little ones" in verse 2 refer to other believers in the church, especially, young believers - newly growing disciples - their value system, their perspectives, their hopes and life's purposes have not been firmly established in God yet; they are still immature, weak and vulnerable; their mind can be easily poisoned with just one doubtful sentence, and they can be misled and go astray. We don't want to cause anyone to sin; we don't want to be the channels through which sin comes into other disciples. But Jesus says that these things are bound to come, indicating that this happens in the church. Sometimes, because of some careless words we utter, we end up making people angry or doubtful; sometimes, because of our certain behavior - the way we talk, the way we behave, the way we dress ourselves - people can be tempted to sin. I knew a student who had recently decided to go to church, but there, instead of God, he found his sin partner, and together, they sinned a lot - drugs, alcohol, stealing cars, and eventually, their lives were ruined. What a grave sin it is to cause young men or women to sin who, otherwise, would have been dedicated to God fully. Once humanistic view is planted in them, then, these young ones never grow in their commitment to God and God's mission, because they see everything humanly; instead, they develop humanistic and relativistic attitude, and thereby, fail to grow as Jesus' disciples - what caused such a terrible result? Just some words of doubt that came out of lack of trust in God, or lack of absoluteness toward God.

 

       Then, can we simply say, "But, that's not what I intended"? Or "I could not help"? No, because causing others to sin is a very serious matter in God's eyes. Jesus says in verse 2, "It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin." A millstone is a large round stone – about 8 feet tall, and 2 feet wide – that was used to grind grains, and usually cows or horses pulled it. If you are thrown into the sea with it tied around your neck, what will happen to you? Surely, you will sink like lead, with no chance to survive. But Jesus says that that's the better choice you can take than causing anyone to sin in the church. What a serious crime it is to cause anyone to sin in the church. It is more than a matter of life and death. Things that cause others to sin are bound to come, but Jesus tells his disciples that they should not be those through whom sin comes to others. If people should be caused to sin in the church, let it happen, but make sure that you are not the ones through whom sin comes to them. If that should happen, let it happen, but make sure that it happens not through you, Jesus' beloved disciples. So, what should we do?

 

       Jesus says in verse 3, "So watch yourselves!" We should watch how we speak, what we say, and how we dress ourselves, and how we behave in the church so that no one should be caused to sin because of us. If you utter some unbelieving words, soon doubt will spread among all brothers and sisters like gangrene, causing them to terrible sin. If you behave seductively, soon many people will become like sick chickens, instead of living as mighty warriors for God. If you gossip around, soon the spiritual environment will be ruined, and God's church will become like a social club. We must watch ourselves – what we say, how we say, how we dress ourselves and how we behave. Always say some words of encouragement not the words of doubt or complaints, so that through you others can be encouraged to love God more and serve Him wholeheartedly. We should not be careless or thoughtless in words and actions at all, but God's people should be sincere and thoughtful, and we must comfort, encourage and strengthen others instead of tearing them down. For this, we must fill our inner world with the word of God - have the things of God in your mind and let your inner world be completely evangelized so that whenever you open your mouth, words of faith that encourage, strengthen and inspire people to love God and serve Him more may come out. You can dress yourself however way you desire; but what if, some weak person may be caused to sin because of that; so dress moderately. Make sure that you don't cause anyone in the church to sin. Watch yourselves!

 

Second, "Rebuke and forgive" (3b-6). Look at verses 3b and 4. Let's read these verses together:

 

"If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,' forgive him."

 

       Here, Jesus shows us how we should deal with someone who sins against us in the church. Dealing with this matter is very important, because, if we don't deal with it properly, we may cause that person to sin, or we may be caused to sin out of the sense of vengeance or anger, or we may let sin spread in the church, causing many people to sin or even destroying the whole church. Someone in the church sins against you - this happens in the church. Church is not a place where all angelic people gather together, but a place where terrible sinners whose sins are forgiven in Jesus Christ gather together and pursue God's work in one mind and heart; they may still have terrible character flaws and many weaknesses. What does it mean that someone sins against you? It means that, because of that person, you are terribly offended or humiliated in front of others; or that person scratched your pride and thereby, you are very angry. At that time, how should we deal with that person? Jesus gives us a clear direction, saying, "Rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him." When someone sins against you, don't give into the sense of vengeance or, don't be emotional, or judgmental or don't take anything personally too much. Don't sin against him, only because he sinned against you. Simply, rebuke him! If he repents, admitting his wrongdoing against you, forgive him. The only condition in this forgiveness is, "if he repents," not "if he repents sincerely or really." We all want to forgive other brother or sister who sinned against us in the church, if that person really repents. But what if you are not sure whether that person's repentance is real or not? Still forgive him. What if his repentance seems habitual, not sincere? Still, forgive him. What if, even if he says, "I repent," you know that he is not sincere and thereby, he will sin again? Still, forgive him. Jesus says, "If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him." When a person sins against you and repents 3 or 4 times a day, you know that there is great possibility that he will do it again, even if you forgive him. Yet, still you forgive him. Whether his repentance is real or not, whether he will sin again or not, still, only if he repents, you forgive him. By doing so, at least, you don't cause him to sin. By doing so, even if he is not so sincere in repentance at first, he may have a chance to be really serious about what he has done and to really repent. When we do this, then, we can work together for God's kingdom purpose in one mind and heart despite all kinds of differences and social and racial barriers. Church should be such a place where brothers and sisters exercise forgiveness freely. 

 

       Look at verse 5. When the disciples heard that they should forgive a sinning brother even seven times a day, they screamed all together in unison, "Increase our faith!" All the common life brothers and sisters read verse 5 together: The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" What they meant was that it was too difficult for them to obey – forgiving a sinning brother who is so casual about repentance seemed impossible. Thus far, they were quiet as Jesus served a long message, but when Jesus talked about forgiving their brother seven times a day, they shouted, "Increase our faith," because it was a real issue among them. As the 12 lived together in the common life setting, so many problems popped up and they had experienced so many conflicts. Surely, each one of them loved Jesus, but loving other disciples in the common life was a different story. And forgiving a sinning brother seven times a day seemed totally impossible. So they shouted, "Increase our faith." What was Jesus' response? Look at verse 6. Let's read this verse together:

 

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."

 

       In the eyes of the disciples, only those who had great faith could do something great such as forgiving a sinning brother seven times a day. But Jesus told them that, if they had faith as small as a mustard seed, they too could do great things such as forgiving a sinning brother seven times a day or performing great miracles. As they followed Jesus, they saw how mightily and effectively Jesus served God's work. They too wanted to serve God's work in the same way, but they knew who they were – nothing but lowly sinners. They only wished if they could be as powerful as Jesus was. But now Jesus was telling them that they too could be great and powerful, doing mighty works of God freely, only if they had faith, as small as a mustard seed. In Jesus' eyes, everyone who believed in him could do what he had been doing, and do even greater things than that. Forgiving a sinning brother seven times a day is not something only great servants of God like the apostle John, the apostle of love, can do, but you too can. If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can become great spiritual leaders.

 

       The whole thing is whether you have faith, even as small as a mustard seed, or not. You may say, "I don't have that kind of great faith to make the mulberry tree obey my command and be planted in the Pacific Ocean." But you do believe that Jesus is your Savior – that's small faith, as small as a mustard seed. So, you are qualified to become great spiritual leaders. You believe that the Bible is the word of God. That's small faith, as small as a mustard seed. You come to worship service every Sunday. That is small faith, as small as a mustard seed. With this faith, you can do glorious works of God, fulfilling God's purpose upon your life. So, you are fully prepared to be great spiritual leaders. In God's eyes, what you need is just small faith, as small as a mustard seed for you to do mighty works of God and become great leaders like the apostle John or the apostle Peter.

 

       Third, "We are unworthy servants" (7-10). In verses 7 through 10, Jesus shows us what kind of attitude we must have as we live as his disciples - an unworthy servant's mindset and attitude. In the ancient days, servants belonged to their masters; they did not have their own human rights; they were their master's possessions. No servant would say, "The master must be thankful, because I have worked hard in the field." They just did what they ought to do as servants. Also, no master would feel obligated to express thanks to them either. In verse 10, Jesus concludes, saying, "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.'"

 

       Now as Jesus' disciples, we understand how things go and what will happen when people die - heaven or hell is waiting for people, and everyone will be judged according to what each person has done. We believe in Jesus and accept his words, so we struggle hard to secure our eternal dwellings in heaven, by using our worldly wealth to gain friends for ourselves, instead of living for ourselves. Like the servant Jesus mentions here, we do what we are supposed to do as his disciples - plowing in the field all day long or taking care of the sheep all day long - we pour out our time and energy and as a result, we save many souls and establish many powerful disciples - our performance and achievement as Jesus' disciples are great. At that time, after performing greatly and achieving great things for God as Jesus' disciples, what kind of attitude should we have? That's what Jesus is talking about. At that time, we must not focus on our performance or achievement. Instead, we must remember who we are, saying, "We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty."

 

       The word, "unworthy" means, "insufficient in worth." Simply, we are insufficient in worth even to be a servant of God; we were not supposed to be a servant of God; we were not supposed to do God's work. Who were we? We were terrible sinners - messing up, sinful, fleshly, selfish, and worldly, doing all kinds of crazy things; we had never imagined or dreamed about doing God's work. Fundamentally, we were enemies of God, the objects of God's wrath, so filthy, so evil. But God had pity on us; He was not pleased to destroy us; instead, out of love, He wanted to save us from our sins and help us and bless us. So, He wrestled with us to change our hearts and our life directions, and finally He purchased us by the blood of his Only Son, and gave us this new life to work for Him. It was indeed, by God's grace that we are given this chance to participate in God's work; we are given such a privilege to work for God. It is certainly, not based on our own worth that we are given this chance to serve God, but based on his amazing grace. Again, simply, even today, even now, even when we perform very greatly for God, even when we achieve great things for God, in our own value we are not worthy to be his servants, but God's grace has been given to us. Jesus wants us to remember this all the time, especially, when we perform very well and achieve great things for God as his disciples. This is such an important matter that he himself wrote a testimony for us in advance - our own testimony written by Jesus, saying, "We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty." Let's share our testimony together, the testimony which Jesus wrote for us: "We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty."

 

       Why is this unworthy servant's attitude so important that Jesus himself wrote the testimony for us? It is because, when we don't have this unworthy servant's attitude, then, based on our performance and achievement, we become proud and self-righteous; such people bring such a terrible influence to others and to the church, hurting many people and causing them to terrible sins. Such people cannot serve God any longer; God cannot use them; instead, they become enemies of God. When such people occupy high positions in the church, then, the church loses its vitality and dies. It is really terrible that, after doing God's work greatly, people fail, only because they focus on their performance and achievement as Jesus' disciples. This is never Jesus' intention for anyone who accepts his teaching and struggles hard to secure their eternal dwellings in heaven. So, he even wrote the testimony for us. Never focus on your performance or achievements in Jesus as his disciples. Even if you don't claim them, God counts everything you have done for him and He is going to reward you very greatly, far greater than you have ever imagined. So, don't worry about it. Instead, today, you work hard to save souls and establish disciples by using your worldly wealth, just as you have done all the time. This way, you live your life as Jesus' disciples all the days of your life. Then, as the time comes for you and you go to the kingdom of God, you will be pleasantly surprised, realizing how many treasures you have stored up in heaven.

 

       Let's read verse 10 together: "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.'" How thankful we are that Jesus teaches us about our proper attitude in serving God's kingdom work. This year, God has done glorious work through us - He has helped us serve many students through one to one Bible studies; He has blessed us to purchase this church through our offerings! Many powerful and fully dedicated disciples are growing up, and we are overjoyed. After achieving these glorious things, what kind of attitude should we have? "We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty." We will do great works than them, and when we do more glorious things than them, what shall we say? "We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty." After committing ourselves to God's work completely, and even after enduring great persecution, we still say, "We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty." Do you endure great sufferings in serving God's work? Let this be your testimony: We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty. Have you lost a lot in serving God's work? Let this be your testimony: We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty. Have you served God's work so well? Are you very fruitful? Let this be your testimony: "We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty."

                                                     

One Word:      We Are Unworthy Servants; We Have Only Done Our Duty.

 

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