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The Faithful Slave

Sunday, May 3, 2009 • Steve Hogan • Christian Living
Luke 17:5-10
Luke 17: 5-10

We live in a world where it's hard to find people who are really committed, whether it's commitment to a job, to a marriage partner, or to the Lord. The first sin in that list of sins from 2 Timothy 3 talks about how people in the last days will be lovers of self. People more and more are committed to themselves, to what they want, and therefore the loyalty, the devotion, the commitment to others is getting less and less.

Luke 17:5-10. Last week we looked at verses 5-6, which talked about how the apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith, which is the kind of prayer all of us should be praying. But then we read verses 7-10, and I believe that the Lord is telling us that if we have faith in a great God, then that faith will be seen in our obedience and commitment to Him.

Hebrews 11 speaks of many examples of people whose faith was expressed in their commitment to God, and to His purposes and work.
- Noah's faith was seen in His dedication, His commitment to the task God had given him, constructing an ark, which turned out to be a 100 year job. Noah's faith and commitment was specifically seen in His obedience to all of God's commands. Genesis 6:22.
- Abraham's faith was also seen in His obedience to God. Hebrews 11:8. And his faith was seen in that for 25 years Abraham kept waiting on God, and believing that God would give him a son, a descendant. Now faith like that that continues through the years is true faith, and a real commitment to God. Romans 4:19-21

Of course, there are many examples of people in the Bible whose faith was expressed in their commitment, obedience, and faithfulness to God. And Jesus wants us to see this  connection between having faith in God, and being a loyal and committed Christian. 
- The lesson from these verses in Luke 17 is very important, that true faith in God is seen in that we'll do what God wants us to do, that we'll be a committed worker, a hard worker, a dedicated disciple, an obedient servant of God, a true slave of God.

Luke 17:7-10. Jesus shares this story illustrating his point. He talks about a slave, and of  course slaves back then were full time slaves. Now there were also what you'd call day laborers, people who came to work just for a day on some particular job.
- But here Jesus talks about a slave, one who was owned by his master, and lived on his master's property, and worked full time for his master, and one who was loyal and committed to his master.

This story speaks of a slave who was either out plowing a field or tending sheep. Now both of these were very hard jobs. The one plowing was out in the field, walking behind these big oxen, turning up the land, working in the heat of the day. The other was tending sheep, and he had to be continually watching his sheep, protecting them from predators, and running after the little lambs who were straying. And so we're talking long hard days, whether you're plowing a field or tending sheep.
- Then the slave is done with his plowing or tending sheep. And no master back then was
going to say, "Hey come in now, and sit down and get something to eat." The master knows that his slave's work is not yet done. This slave may be done working outside, but he also has work to do inside. He has to get the meal ready for his master.

1st, he is to properly clothe himself. Maybe this means that he had to get cleaned up, and put on some clean clothes, which makes sense because he was probably quite dirty. But not only that, back than people would normally wear garments that were long, loose and flowing; and before anyone would do anything requiring bodily exertion, they would gird themselves - they would tie up their garments around their waist.
- 2nd, he was to prepare the meal. This slave was to cook the food, to get the meal ready to eat; and it was to be a good meal. You see, the biggest meal was this one here, the one at the end of the day. The words "to eat" are also translated "to sup" or "to dine", from which we get our English words supper or dinner.
- 3rd, he was to serve his master, to bring him his food and drink, to make sure his master had all he wanted, and that he was fully satisfied. This slave was the cook, the waiter, the busboy, and the dishwasher. This slave did everything.

And this slave who had worked hard all day long must have been very tired; and he comes inside the house. And he doesn't put his feet up and relax for awhile. He doesn't read his mail and watch a little bit of the news. He doesn't check his phone or computer for messages. And he doesn't sit down to eat. He keeps serving his master. And only when he has completely finished serving his master, can he then sit down, relax and eat his meal.

Luke 17:9. Not only does this slave faithfully do his job, but he doesn't receive any thanks for doing his job. Now on one hand you might think that the master is being too hard, too demanding, and not kind or loving. But on the other hand this slave was just doing his job. He had particular duties to do, and he knew that he was to do them, and he carried them out. And I don't believe this slave was looking for a pat on the back; I don't believe he was expecting the master to say thanks for the job that he did, for working hard all day long and then into the evening.

And I believe you all understand this. If you have a job someplace, you know your job description, you know your duties, and you just do it. And you don't expect your boss to come up to you and say, "Hey, thanks for doing your work today." But rather your boss expects you to do your work, to do what you are assigned to do, and if you don't, he'll let you know. And in fact if you're not a good worker, if you're lazy, if you don't get your job done, then he'll probably let you go, he'll fire you.

Let me mention some other examples:
- If you are a mother, and you are raising children, then you know it's a 24/7 job. For you are a cook, a housecleaner, a homemaker, a teacher, a nurse, a counselor, a friend, and a disciplinarian. And on one hand, you know that's your job, and you are not expecting to be thanked every day for what you know you are supposed to do.
- If you're a child, you usually know your duties, your chores; you know what's expected of you; and I don't believe your parents come up and say "thanks" or give you some reward or allowance every time you do the work you are supposed to do.

And this kind of heart, this attitude, this mentality that Jesus is conveying here is clearly the one we should have as Christians, as servants of God, as slaves of God. That's what Luke 17:10 is saying to each of us. And the person who can say "I am an unworthy slave; I have done only that which I ought to have done", is the one who understands who he really is, and how he is to live:
- He realizes that he has been bought with a price, that he has been redeemed, that he is not his own, that he is to glorify God in his body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
- He realizes that he is to be a living sacrifice, that he is to sacrifice and give up his life, his desires, for the purposes of God. Romans 12:1-2
- He realizes that he is slave of Christ, a follower of Christ, that he's to deny himself, take up his cross, and lose his life for God's purposes and glory. Luke 9:23-24

As Christians we must not forget who we are; we must not forget our calling; and we must not forget our relationship with God, that He's our master and that He is a good and holy master; and that we are His slaves, and that we are to be good and faithful slaves. Matthew 25:23 - "Well done, good and faithful slave." Now most Bible translations wrongly and sadly translate "doulos" as servant instead of slave. 

God has given us a very clear job description. He has told us what we're to do. He has given us commands to obey. He's given us instructions to follow. And we all know this. What I am saying today is not new.
- And we know the basic commands - that we are to love God, and love one another.
- We know that we're to love God's Word, to be led by the Spirit, to sanctify Christ
as Lord in our hearts, that we're to trust God, that we're to believe His promises.
- We know we're to rejoice always, pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks.
- We know that we are set our minds on things above, that we are put to death the sin
in our lives, that we're to be loving husbands, submissive wives and obedient children.
- We know that we're to be good witnesses, that we're to proclaim the gospel, that
we are to go and make disciples. And there are many other commands from God.  

But the point is that God is our Lord, and He has saved us and has left us here to carry out His purposes; and we carry out His purposes by keeping His commands. And we are to carry out all His commands. Psalm 119:1-8, 10, 19, 34, 56, 112
- Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 5:31-33; 6:1-9; 8:1, 6-10. These verses speak of commands the  Israelites were to obey. And I just mentioned some commands God that God has given us Christians to obey, commands that tell us how to live, what we should do with our lives, and how we're to relate to others. Indeed, the commands of God give direction to our lives;
and the commands of God are good for our lives.

But these commands are in direct opposition to the way our flesh thinks. Galatians 5:17
You see, our thinking is so affected by our own flesh, by our own selfish interests, by our own laziness, by our own desire for pleasure and fun. Moses example - Hebrews 11:25-26
- Our thinking is also affected by the devil's lies, for he tempts us to live for ourselves, to do what we want to do, to do that which pleases us, but doesn't please God. 
- Our thinking is also affected by the world's way of thinking. For example, the world says, "You work 40 hours a week, and then you have the nights and weekends to yourselves, to do whatever you want." But is that right? No. That's not right. Romans 14:6-9

Indeed, our minds need to be transformed by God's truth - we need to understand that we are the Lords, and that we are to serve Him, and live for Him all the time - all day long, all week long, all year long, for our entire life. Our job description given to us by God is clearly defined and spelled out by God's commands; and we're to fully, faithfully, joyfully, and wholeheartedly carry out these commands all the time.
- And let's say you work hard for the Lord all day long, and then its night, and you say to yourself, "It's not the Lord's time anymore - it's my time, and I can do anything I want."  But that's not right, you are to live for the Lord all the time.

And you may say this is too hard. And if you say this is too hard, then you need to grow up more, and I am being honest with you. We can't be weak and wimpy Christians. We need to see that we are soldiers on the front lines, and we have important work to do, the most important work, and it's the hardest work too. Indeed we are fighting in a war, a spiritual war, and the battles are very hard, and at times, seem to be impossible. Ephesians 6:10-13.  We need to ask God to increase our faith. That is the only way we can be strengthened.

Now the apostles were sensing the difficulty, the impossibility of doing God's work; and they knew faith was the means to obtaining the grace, strength and encouragement from God to do the work He wanted them to do; and so, they asked God to increase their faith;
and we need to do this too. All of us need to have our faith increased, including myself.
- Now in all this I'm not saying we work seven days straight without rest. We need physical rest and spiritual rest. We need to take the time to get refreshed and strengthened physically and spiritually. We need to take care of ourselves physically and spiritually so we can be faithful, hard working servants for the Lord. Example of old saints. Isaiah 40:28-31.

Today, we've talked about being obedient servants, obedient slaves, and being ones who
don't need to be thanked by others for doing the job that we're supposed to be doing anyway. We need to do what God commands us to do because we love God, and because we are convinced from God and His Word that we're doing what is right. Philippians 1:21-26.
- Well, we should be very thankful to God that He saved us, and one reason He saved us
was so that we could be His slaves, and so that we could be used for His purposes, for that which counts for eternity. Well, we each have but one life, and might we live all out for Him, and then we will be blessed, and be a blessing to others, and a blessing to God.
1 Corinthians 15:58

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

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