“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.”
Following Jesus is not easy and it is oftentimes unAmerican. Luke poses this absurd question about a servant’s role in ancient times: “Does the master ever thank the servant because he did what was commanded?” The answer is very cleary “No!” Why? Because that was what was expected of a servant. A servant was EXPECTED to serve. He wasn’t doing his master a favor; he was doing his job. He was doing what was expected of him as a servant–an unworthy servant.
I think about my life and the life of other western Christians around me. We have rights! We deserve to be treated a certain way! We are owed happiness. We expect the American dream–life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And when we don’t get it, we think something is wrong because that’s what we were promised.
I do this in so many ways. I deserve a good job, a nice house, a fulfilling life, a great marriage, lifelong happiness, wonderfully obedient children, enough money to buy the toys I want and friends that are there for me. More often than not, I expect these things. And when I don’t get them, it is tempting to get frustrated and I believe it is my right to go somewhere else and find them!
But Jesus’ response to this leaves no room for anything of the sort. We are not owed anything. We don’t deserve anything good. In fact, if we got what we deserved we would be headed for eternal separation from God. Even as I read this, it sounds really harsh. To use Jesus’ words, we are unworthy servants. Try that on for size. I am an unworthy servant. It is my duty to serve. A life of being poured out in service to Jesus is what I can expect. Everything else is a gift.
The beauty is that I don’t even deserve to be a servant of the Living God. His grace is evident even in the title “unworthy servant.” The God of the Universe loves me, has saved me and allows me to be His servant. When my perspective is right, this is far better than any job, home, relationship or toy I might buy.
When I get this, truly get this, I can say with confidence: “My name is Charlie and I am an unworthy servant. It is my duty to serve.”