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The Scriptorium

What Servants Do

Serve. Luke 17.7-11

Luke 17 (3)

Pray Psalm 123.2.
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters,
As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,
So our eyes look to the LORD our God,
Until He has mercy on us.

Sing Psalm 123.2.
(Darwall: Rejoice, the Lord is King)
As servants strain to see their earthly lord’s command,
so we would in Your Presence be and firmly stand!
Refrain v. 2
We look to You! Have mercy, Lord,
upon us by Your sovereign Word.

Read Luke 17.1-10; meditate on verses 7-10.

1. What did Jesus say about servants?

2. How did He apply that to His disciples (and us)?

It’s important to note that Jesus connected the teaching of these verses with His previous comments about faith like a mustard seed. Here Jesus shows how faith is increased. In short, if you want increased faith, fulfill your calling as a servant.

Jesus’ disciples are called to the work of service, that is, to ministry (Eph. 4.11, 12). He showed how ludicrous it would be for a master to fix a meal for his servants when their field work is through (v. 7). That would be the equivalent of Jesus granting increased faith to His disciples immediately, without their having to work out their salvation in faith and obedience.

Instead, Jesus reminded His disciples that serving is what servants do, what they are commanded to do (vv. 8, 9). Serving is work and working at serving the master leads ultimately to the blessings of food and housing (v. 9).

Just so we, when we have done what we were commanded – follow Jesus, make disciples, be His witnesses, obey His Word – we will only have done what we, as servants, have been sent to the world to do, just as Jesus did (Jn. 20.21). We don’t expect to be thanked for being obedient, but we will find that our faith grows with each next step of serving the Lord by serving others. Our calling will be confirmed as we do what we are saved and called to do (Eph. 2.8-10), and we will find that our faith increases as we are faith-full and obedient to the Lord.

And then there is this: Jesus is even now preparing a banquet – an eternal banquet of feeding on Him and His grace – for all His faithful servants, every one of His followers who is faithful in serving and increasing in faith even unto death (Rev. 19.6-8; 2.10), everyone to whom He will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Then we will feast with Him forever as we worship Him in the fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16.11).

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Not everybody gets a trophy. And in this case, nobody does (Lk. 17.9).
Obedience never deserves praise; it is expected.

We should be as obedient as the soldiers that ran toward certain death on the beaches of Normandy. Their training, goal, and purpose drove them forward. Not for a prize, but for duty and honor. They will be remembered for their courage and strength. Watching that happen on film in Saving Private Ryan is chilling. But more to the point, that is the kind of faithful obedience God demands from us in our Christian walk.

Not for praise but for duty (Lk. 17.10).

Those servants of Christ who are slack in their calling get the same scolding that the children of Israel did from Joshua: “How long will you neglect to go and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers has given you?” (Josh. 18.3). For us that would be the beach of our Personal Mission Field.

To be clear, as John Milton penned, “They also serve who only stand and wait.” He wrote this from the vantage point of blindness. Not all activity is mobile. Much activity in God’s economy is still: in prayer, waiting on Him, petitioning God for the needs of others, and in quiet study of His Word. Those who are housebound have as grand a ministry as those who can get out and about. All faithfulness is faithfulness. Our work is not measured in mileage; but in obedience where we are. As Jesus said about the woman who anointed Him with oil, “She has done what she could” (Mk. 14.6, 8).

We press on in faithful obedience, as Paul did. His attitude is worthy of imitation (1 Cor. 11.1). He declared in his tribulations, and in the knowledge of more coming his way: “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20.24).

Because God is God, and the basis of His love for mankind is grace and mercy, there are blessings, yes, an underserved trophy, in store for the faithful. It is a sweet treat in the end—dessert at the close of the meal. “Deal with Your servant according to Your mercy…” (Ps. 119.124) and “Whoever keeps the fig tree will eat its fruit; so he who waits on his master will be honored” (Prov. 27.18). In the end (Rev. 2.7; 3.5).

Even though it’s what servants do…we have this promise to cherish:
“The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with love,
He will rejoice over you with singing” (Zeph. 3.17). Now and always.

Storm the beach—know you are loved.

For reflection
1. To what service – ministry – has God appointed you in your Personal Mission Field?

2. What do you do each day to prepare for that service? Whom will you serve today?

3. How would you explain the relationship between faithful and obedient service and increasing faith?

The sun obeys, the moon complies, and the angels serve.… Let us not require praise from ourselves nor prevent the judgment of God and anticipate the sentence of the Judge but reserve it for its own time and Judge. Ambrose of Milan (333-397), Exposition of the Gospel of Luke 8.31-32

Pray Psalm 123.1, 3, 4.
Seek the Lord for strength and courage to serve Him by serving the people in your Personal Mission Field.

Sing Psalm 123.1, 3, 4.
(Darwall: Rejoice, the Lord is King)
To You we lift our eyes, O God enthroned above!
With longing gaze and heaving sighs we plead Your love!
Refrain v. 2
We look to You! Have mercy, Lord,
upon us by Your sovereign Word.

Have mercy, Lord, we pray; our souls are weary, worn.
The wicked world condemns our way and heaps up scorn.

Our souls are sore oppressed by this world’s ease and pride.
In You we would be healed and blessed, and in You hide.

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can download all the studies in our Luke series by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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