Being a Godly Slave
Wednesday, May 13, 2009 • Steve Hogan • Christian Living
I remember years ago asking my Mom what it was like in the 1950's. She said she really didn't know; she said she was too busy raising us kids. Of course I should've known that. My brother Dave was born in 1950; Cheryl was born in 1951; Jane was born in 1952; I was born in 1953; my Mom had a miscarriage in 1954; Clark was born in 1955; Jeff was born in 1957; and Julie was born in 1959. That's quite a few children - 7 kids in 9 years. That was a lot of work. There was no free time for her. And then my dad died in 1961.
- I must admit I'm very thankful for my Mom. I know she was very hard working, a committed, dedicated, faithful Mom; and it wasn't just the 50's - it was the 60's, 70's,
80's, 90's and into the 21st century.
- Our lesson today is on being a faithful, committed and obedient slave of Christ.
Luke 17:1-10. The disciples were sensing the responsibility and difficulty of their mission; and so they ask Jesus to increase their faith. They know faith is the means to receiving the grace and power they needed so they could do what God wanted them to do.
- Jesus shares this story about this hard working slave, who was serving his master all day long; and then comes home and continues to work at night by serving his master his evening meal. And the slave doesn't get any thanks from his master.
- Jesus tells us we're to be like this slave. We're to do all that God wants us to do. And that means we're to be obedient, and carry out the commands God gives us. Let me just mention a few things about obeying God, about keeping God's commands.
1. Carrying out God's commands is good for our lives; it brings blessing to our lives and to the lives of others. Deuteronomy 8:1, Psalm 112:1.
- Carrying out God's commands is the means to fulfilling God's purposes, the means to fulfilling the plans that God has for our lives.
- Carrying out God's commands results in God being glorified. 1 Corinthians 10:31
2. God wants us to carry out all of His commands. Matthew 28:19-20. Psalm 119:5-8. You might say there are a lot commands, and that's true; there are a lot of commands.
But learning to obey God is a process that takes time; and you take one step at a time. A little baby learns to crawl, then to stand, then to walk, then to run. Math.
- And in this area of obedience, God is your teacher, and He will be teaching you. Psalm 119:33-35; 143:8, 10
Now when you think about obeying God, then take one day at a time. And remember:
a. God wants you to learn to forget about yesterday, not dwell on tomorrow, but focus on today, and do today what God wants you to do today.
b. Everyday God wants you to obey him in general areas, e.g. love, trust, be thankful.
c. Everyday God has specific things for you to do, specific ways for you to obey Him. God's Spirit will lead you as to how you should specifically obey Him in these general areas.
d. If there is a new command you're learning, than focus on that one command. Children.
3. Know that if you're not obeying God, then you are disobedient; and you are obeying your own flesh; you're obeying the desires of the world, and of the devil. And you don't want to do that. Galatians 5:16-17.
- Now before you were saved, you couldn't help but sin. You were obeying your own flesh, and were probably stuck in some sinful habits. But now as a Christian, you desire to obey God, and you can obey God, but it sure doesn't happen naturally.
Obeying God is a spiritual and supernatural work of God in your life; and by God's Word and the power of the Holy Spirit you can become an obedient Christian. But it is a struggle against the flesh, against the ways of the world, and against the devil.
- This obedience relates to your faith - your reliance on God, your reliance on His Word, and on His power. In Hebrews 11 we read of many obedient people, and those people were obedient because they were looking to God, depending on God and trusting in Him. Joshua 1:1-9
4. Finally, remember the two main commandments - the first and greatest commandment is loving God. Following and flowing from that we are to love one another. Everything revolves around these two commandments. Matthew 22:40
Now we are talking about high level commitment, a commitment to obey all of God's commands; and this high level commitment is what God wants for every single Christian.
It's like the commitment a good soldier would have, the commitment to his fellow soldiers, to his commanding officer, and to his country. For us, this means active service, active duty for the Lord, and sacrifice. And this is to be the norm for every Christian, to be committed, faithful and obedient to the Lord.
- The normal Christian life is to be a life of sacrifice, service, and obedience. The true Christian isn't just a Sunday morning Christian, but a seven day a week Christian. He's to be actively obeying the Lord every day. He is to be serving the Lord everyday, at home, at work, in the church, on the road, all the time; and this is faith; it's commitment.
The kind of Christian we are talking about today then is not just those who are involved in full time work for the Lord, not just those who are missionaries, not just those who are in some Christian ministry. Every Christian is to live like Christ, and to give his life fully to Christ. He is to be sold out to the Lord. Philippians 1:21
- Luke 9:23-24. The true disciple takes up His cross, dies to self, and follows the Lord. He lives for the Lord, and is even willing to die for the Lord.
Luke 17:10. This verse conveys an amazing attitude, and the right attitude that all of us
as obedient Christians should have about ourselves, that we are but unworthy slaves. We are to do what God wants us to do, and then know that we've just done our duty, that we've just done what we were supposed to do.
- Oftentimes I hear of soldiers who come back from a war, and they've sacrificed their lives, they've been in combat; they've engaged the enemy; they've done something noble. And they say something like, "That is my duty; that's what I was trained to do." They don't brag or boast; and that's the kind of attitude that God wants all of us to have, to do what God wants us to do, and to know we just did what we were supposed to do.
But let me talk more specifically about how we're to see ourselves as unworthy slaves:
1. We need to remember that we were all sinners, that we were all saved by God's grace, that none of us deserved to be saved, and that we are now children of God is all by God's doing. God was extremely gracious and kind to save us from our sin. 1 Corinthians 1:30-31. "Extreme" mercy.
2. We need to remember that one reason God saved us was so that we could be His slaves and could serve Him. John 15:16. Now we don't deserve to be slaves of God, servants of God. We are unworthy slaves. And so it's an incredible privilege and opportunity that we can be slaves of God and can serve God, the holy and living God.
3. We need to remember that any ability or spiritual gift that we have is from God.
Ephesians 3:7. God gives us the grace to do what He wants us to do; and we didn't work for the grace; we didn't earn the grace; and we didn't deserve the grace.
- Therefore we shouldn't think that we're special, or that we are any better than someone
Else. We are what we are because of God and His grace. 1 Corinthians 4:7, 15:10
Romans 12:1-8. You should never think more highly of yourself than you ought. If you have any gift at all, it's because of God's grace. If you have the gift of serving, or the gift of mercy, evangelism, or administration, it's all because of God.
- We're not self made Christians. We're God made Christians. Ephesians 2:10. It's God who makes us who we are, gives us work to do, and enables us to serve Him.
- Therefore any good that you do, if you are serving, loving or encouraging the saints,
it's all because of God. It's not you; it's God working in and thru you; and God should get the credit. You serve the Lord, you use your gift for the Lord, and you work hard for the Lord, and it's the Lord who then deserves the praise, the honor, the glory.
4. When we do work for the Lord, we are imperfect workman at best. We are to do the best we can, but because of our sinful flesh, our human nature, we never do a perfect job; our actual obedience in some particular area is never perfect. Examples of being thankful or loving. Jesus Christ was the only perfect workman on this earth.
- Now in saying this, I'm not trying to make you feel bad; but we need to be honest with ourselves, and know that yes, God does use us, but we are imperfect workers, and therefore we are "unworthy slaves". The only truly worthy slave was Jesus Christ.
5. We're not perfect in what we actually do for the Lord, but we're also not perfect in that we don't do all that we are to do. None of us have carried out all of God's commands, and have done all that God wants us to do; and so again we can say that we're unworthy slaves. We're unworthy because we aren't completely obedient.
But here we read that even if we do all that we are supposed to do, we are still unworthy slaves. Just like your employer gives you a job to do, and you do it, so too God has given you a job to do, and you need to be mature and do it, and then say, "I have only done that which I ought to have done."
- And even when we do all that we are supposed to do we are unworthy because God is the one who gives us the desire and ability to do what He wants us to do, and so God gets all the credit, all the glory. Philippians 2:12-13
Now none of us will ever be perfectly obedient in this life. But we need to aim for perfection. Matthew 5:48. We need to forget what lies behind, and press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
- And so whether you come to the end of a day, the end of a week, or the end of your life, you need to humbly and graciously say to the Lord, "I am an unworthy slave, I have done only that which I ought to have done." Explain a "good day".
- JC Ryle - "Once pardoned and forgiven we must travel the daily journey of life under
a deep conviction that we are unprofitable servants. At our best we only do our duty, and have nothing to boast of. And even when we do our duty it is not by our power and might that we do, but by the strength which is given to us fro God."
Philippians 2:3-8. Our number one example in all of this is Jesus Christ, for He considered Himself to be a slave. And He was a slave, and He lived like a slave. If He considered Himself to be a slave, and lived like a slave, then how much more should we consider ourselves to be slaves, His slaves, and live like slaves. Luke 22:27, John 13:13
The rest of Philippians 2 gives us these great examples of ones who were slaves of God.
Verse 17 - Paul. Verses 19-22 - Timothy. Verses 25-30 - Epaphroditus. Clearly Epaphroditus wasn't looking for any thanks, any credit. And as Christians we shouldn't be looking for thanks for what we do, but rather be thankful to God that we can serve Him at all. The greatest miracle in the world is that we were saved, and one reason we were saved is to be slaves so that we can serve the living God.
Now this theme of being a slave of God starts in Philippians 1:1 - "Paul and Timothy, slaves of God." And when you think about this whole book, you realize that God wants you to be fully aware that you are a slave of God, and that He is making you into the best slave you can be. Philippians 1:6, 1:21, 2:12-13, 3:13, 4:13.
- What a privilege and blessing that we're slaves of God and that we can serve God. We should be very thankful that we have the most important job there is.
Do what God wants you to do; obey the Lord in all things; obey the Lord at all times; and don't grumble or complain about the work He gives you, but serve Him gladly, excitedly, and not grudgingly. Peter - John 21. "Fulfill your ministry" - 2 Timothy 4:5
- Leave it to God to appraise your work, to judge your work, for He will note what you do for Him, and how you serve Him and work for Him. He will know your heart, your prayers, your faith, your love, your devotion and sacrifice. Hebrews 6:10
- And as you follow the Lord, and please Him during this life you have on this earth, then at the right time He'll say to you, "Well done, good and faithful slave." Matthew 25:21, 1 Thessalonians 5:24