Unprofitable Servants

Photo by Alexis Antoine on Unsplash

Last week we saw Jesus’ illustration of Heaven and Hell in the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus. Lazarus relied upon God for life – the rich man relied on his riches. When Lazarus died the angels of God took him to Abraham’s Bosom, symbolic of paradise. But when the rich man died, in hell he lifted up his eyes. He lived a life without God on the earth, and now was confined – and in torment – in a place that he could not leave. The rich man’s heart was hardened by sin. Though in hell, the rich man still saw Lazarus as a thing to be used. Remember what he said?

Luke 16:24 … send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

This man has no love for anything or anyone but himself. Send Lazarus from the glory of Paradise, to this flame where I am, and have him wait on me.

No, rich man, this is not possible. There is a great gulf fixed (Luke 16:26) where no soul can cross. Then the rich man shows concern for his brothers.

Luke 16:27-28 {send Lazarus} to my father’s house: 28 for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.

This is the first evidence of any love at all in this man. Though it is a selective love, the rich man is concerned about his brothers. He does not want them to enter the same hell he is in. Since he can’t go to them, he wants Lazarus to go, and warn them of hell. Abraham replied:

Luke 16:29-31 They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

It is the Bible that the rich man’s brothers need to heed. Lazarus cannot go to them. But I want to focus on this again: the rich man did care for his brothers. But he can no longer do anything good for these brothers. He can no longer tell them about Heaven or Hell, as he is trapped in Hell. Beloved, the time to tell others about Jesus is while we are on this earth. Abraham was not insensitive to the brothers of the rich man. He just is not able to witness from Paradise, no more than the rich man can witness from Hell. As the Scripture says:

2 Corinthians 6:2 … behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation

God Is Driven By Love – And We Should Be, Too

Luke 17:1-2 Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offenses will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! 2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

Do you notice how our text starts: THEN said he unto the disciples. Even though this starts a new chapter in our Bibles, this THEN ties what Jesus is now going to say back to the story of the rich man and Lazarus. This rich man – in hell – finally cared for his brothers. Though it was a case of too little, too late,

God expects those who are His Children to care about His family. We need to care about adding to it, and lifting up one another. The Light of Christ’s Kingdom must grow.

Jesus cautions His disciples – that’s us – against offending “one of these little ones”. Who is He talking about? Jesus is talking about younger, less mature Christians. In a parallel text Jesus calls these “little ones” …

Matthew 18:6 … these little ones which believe in me ….

If you are a Christian, you were saved by the unmerited mercy of God’s Love. No one deserves salvation – we are all fallen creatures, far, far from God. The Bible says:

Romans 3:10-12 … There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Vs 1 “It is impossible but that offenses will come”

We are all sinners, but God in His infinite love reaches out to us. He touches our hearts, and calls us to salvation in Christ. The Bible says that “we are children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26).

Standing before Jesus as He speaks are two groups of people:

  1. the Pharisees who were more concerned with religion and ritual than they were about their relationship with God. Jesus often called these people “hypocrites”.
  2. the disciples of Christ who believed in Him for salvation. Jesus cherishes the souls of those whom He has saved. He cherishes them, because He shed His blood for them, as He has for us. Jesus says, “do not offend the little ones – the young Christians – who believe in Me”.

Jesus wants us to be better than the lost rich man. We are to be concerned about our brothers and sisters NOW, not LATER when we leave this life.

The rich man wanted to be responsible for his brothers after he ended up in hell. The lost person only wants what they have for themselves. The lost person defines life by what they can get out of it. The Christian is called to LOVE – to LOVE God and LOVE those around him.

Illustrate An angel came to a rich man and asked, “What can I do for you?”. The rich man, caring only for his wealth, said: “Show me the Wall Street Journal one year from today. I can use it to invest my money, and become even richer!”. The angel handed the man the Wall Street Journal, just as he asked. The man flipped to the stock exchange report, and quickly noted the best stocks to buy. He then turned one more page, and tears began to roll down his face. In the obituary section there was his picture – he had died!

The Riches Of The Christian Is Our God And
Our Family In Christ

The “Apostle of Love” wrote:

1 John 3:10-12 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. 11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.

The true Christian does the works of God, and loves his brother. He does not love as the rich man loves, only when he leaves this life. He does not love as Cain loved. The Christian is called to love as Jesus commanded. The faithful believer will love! Jesus said:

Matthew 22:37-40 …. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Love, as Jesus loved, is commanded to every believer in Christ. We are to care for our brothers and sisters. We are to care for the lost.

Luke 17:3-4 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. 4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.

Jesus tells His disciples – that’s us – Take heed to yourselves. We are to examine our lives. We are to …

Philippians 2:12-13 … work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Is God working in you? Then it will show in your life when your brother or sister offends you. It will show in how you resolve conflicts. Jesus said:

Luke 17:3 … If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him

Word Study The word REBUKE is the Greek ἐπιτιμάω epitimáō, {pronounced ep-ee-tee-mah’-o}, which means “to censure or admonish”. We are to tell our brothers and sisters when they have offended us. We are not to gossip about them, but to tell the offense to the offender alone. This is where you start. You do not bear a grudge, nor allow the offense to fester, but seek reconciliation NOW. Jesus said:

Matthew 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

Once you tell your brother what he did, THEN …

Luke 17:3 … If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.

If the offending party changes their attitude – asks forgiveness – then you are to forgive that person. How often? Jesus said:

Luke 17:4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.

So often we are offended, then carry grudges. Sadly, many times people who profess Christ as Savior have arguments and breaches, then one will move to another Church without doing what Christ has commanded. Jesus said that forgiveness in non-negotiable. We are to love one another. And if one offends us, we are to seek to mend the rift. We are not to cherish a grudge. When Peter heard this teaching from Christ, he sought a loophole, saying:

Matthew 18:21-22 … Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

Doesn’t God forgive us when we repent, confessing our sins? The Bible says:

1 John 1:9 … If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

God does not place a limit on His forgiveness of our breeches against Him. He does not place a limit on the number of times we are to forgive. The Apostle said:

Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Colossians 3:12-13 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

Don’t Make Excuses – Just DO It!

When the disciples hear what Jesus said, they reply in an almost comical way. They said:

Luke 17:5-6 And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. 6 And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamore tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.

The disciples felt that what Jesus was asking was so hard, so impossible, that they asked that He increase their faith. Jesus said, “All you need is faith the size of a grain of mustard seed”. It doesn’t take much faith to forgive your brother or sister.

When you do what Jesus says, you prevent a mountain of trouble in your life, and in the life of the Church.

Just do what Jesus said do. Unity is so important in the life of the Church. It is only when two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20). A disharmonious Church cannot be empowered of God. When others fail you or hurt you, remember this.

We are all UNWORTHY servants.

Jesus uses this simple illustration to make His point. He says:

Luke 17:7-9 But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? 8 And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? 9 Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I {think} not.

Do you get the picture? The SERVANT (that’s us) has been plowing all day. Now it’s supper time. When we come in from the field, do we tell the MASTER (that’s God), “I’m going to sit down and eat. YOU feed me, then YOU feed Yourself”. Absolutely not! When the servant comes in from the field, that servant FEEDS THE MASTER FIRST, and then sits down to eat. DOES THE MASTER THANK THE SERVANT? Absolutely not!

Illustrate Every month I pay my mortgage. My bank doesn’t thank me for paying my mortgage. I owe the mortgage. I owe what I borrowed back to the bank.

If you are saved by faith in Christ, you have received the greatest of all gifts. You are of the Family of God. You owe God everything. God has given you not only life, but has given His life for you. He has prepared a place for you in Heaven, a glorious place that we neither have earned nor will ever deserve. We fail God daily, and yet, He loves us as His children for Christ’s sake. Jesus said:

Luke 17:10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things {forgiving your fellow believers. Loving the unlovable} which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

We who are Christians have a duty we owe toward our Master. As we have been loved of God, we are to love others. We are to forgive offenses, knowing this is the will of our Master. Jesus warned us:

Matthew 6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

We are expected to love one another as Christ has loved us.

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

John 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

The Church of Christ is called to be filled with love: love toward God, and love toward one another.

Romans 12:1-2 … present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Our love is to be like Christ’s. Not like the world’s love, but like Jesus’ love. Let us love and serve one another. Let us be the Light that Christ has called us to be. May God touch our hearts with His Word and by His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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