Unprofitable Servants

April 23, 2013

We’re Number 1!!! We have the largest Sunday School! We have a dynamic ministry! Dr. Good-Words is the world’s leading authority on ________. We had the largest number of conversions and baptisms for the year! We support 500 missionaries! Our seminary has the most graduates of any other seminary in the world! Our annual budget is $3 million dollars!
Sometimes I feel like I am hearing a corporation’s report to the Chairman of the Board or some sales pitch when I hear Christians or a Christian organization speak of themselves. Frankly, it often sounds like bragging. It also sounds like they have a handle on God’s blessing that no one else has and that they are breaking their arm patting themselves on the back.
David got into trouble for numbering the people and I have some concern that in counting our “blessings” that we are suffering from the same pride when we have such a grandiose spiel about our sheep, shekels and service. ’Umbleness does not seem to be one of our strong suits.
In fact “peer pressure”, among pastors leads to some really strange accounting systems. I once stood with a pastor that told another preacher that attendance at our church was 160 that week. I nearly fainted, but kept quiet. I was trying to figure where he was all week for I had not seen that where I was attending and I was sure that he was in the pulpit. Later, I asked him how he came up with that figure. He was counting the attendance for each service including Sunday School. The total was 160. I thought, Duh, that is “correct”, but they were the same 40 people not 160 unique individuals, which was what I was positive that the other guy was thinking when he heard 160. That is what is spawned of our running churches like a business rather than a ministry, but that is a different sermon. We even have a church in the area called God, Inc. for crying out loud!! Don’t get me started or I won’t get this sermon done for another hundred pages. C];-)}|>

Luke 17:6-10
6 And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.
7 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 trow not.
10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do. (KJV)

I find it very interesting that the Lord starts this passage off by saying what a marvelous and miraculous thing we could do with mustard seed faith. A mustard seed is a mighty small thing. A mountain is well, a mountain. If I possess a puny thing, I can do a mountainous thing. Where does the glory lie, in what I possess or in what God can do with it? And all God’s people would answer correctly and say, “Why in what God does with my meager faith, of course!”
Our theology is often letter perfect but the application of it is pitiful. If all the glory is in what God can do with our puniness then why do we strut and puff like we are so wonderful? Indeed, since none of us have tossed a mountain yet it appears that we do not even have mustard seed size faith. Therefore if any of the things that I mentioned in the opening paragraph our true it only stands to reason that God should get even greater glory since what we possess is obviously microscopic and yet He brings about such huge results.
Not only do we strut ourselves but we get all “het up” because we think we are just doing so much for God and expect Him to lavish us with bonuses and blessings and appropriate vacation or personal goodies. What hoo ha! That is American and Union maybe but not necessarily Kingdom thinking. Military men get medals for going above and beyond the call of duty, but we are taught here that there is no such thing in service to the Master.
We think that showing up a couple of times a week and throwing a couple of bucks in the plate is really busting our spiritual hump. If we pray a few times a week or crack open the Book for a few minutes a day that we are near the breaking point and we do not want to be stressed out. We are backslidden, whining weenies! It is no wonder our homes and nations are in such a sad shape. We are self-gratifying ingrates. We are unprofitable servants.
Look at the servant in the parable. If any of you are farmers or cattle folks you know that this lad’s duties started VERY early in the morning or at O dark 30 as we said in the military. It appears that the size of the farm or ranch was small since he had ranch hand and cook duties. Therefore this lad was up and at it before anyone else was awake. So, he may well have been in the fields or on the range for six hours before he came in to prepare the noon meal. Not only did he prepare it, but he serves it and cleaned up as well. When his master went into the parlor to read or nap then this servant got to eat and drink. We are not told the rest of his day, but we can feel confident that he did not get the rest of the afternoon off and did not go to bed until the master went to bed, which may have been late. This was one hard workin’ ’ombre and I do not think many of us would want his job regardless of the pay.
Note, then what the Lord says about all this hard labor. Does the master tell the servant to eat first? Nope. Does he even thank him? Nope. Why? Hey, he was a servant. He was there to perform these tasks. Whether he was owned or paid did not matter. He did what he was commanded to do and that was what was expected so why thank someone for doing what they are supposed to do?
I know that flies in the face of all the American employees’ expectations. If the Boss does not say, “Good morning!” to you everyday you get offended. If they do not pat you on the back regularly you get all bent out of whack and slack off. There better be some kind of bonus or award routinely or you will slack off. Slackers! You signed on for a paycheck. If you are getting what you signed on for then the employer is doing all he promised and it is reasonably expected that you will give your best work for what you signed on for or it is you that are breaking the contract. Anything else the employer gives you or commends you for is gravy and grace, not a right. This is why America is not the great industrial leader it once was because employees want more so they can give less.
That nonsense spills over into the church. People want to be constantly recognized for doing what is expected of them. If the preacher sees you pick up a gum wrapper he better praise you from the pulpit or you are offended. If you are a Sunday School teacher and you show up on time you better be nominated for teacher of the year. If you give a large offering to the Missions program there better be a plaque somewhere with your name on it or there will be Hell to pay. It has to be Hell because if the gift was given in a Heavenly manner you would do it quietly and ’umbly. The list of silliness could go on for a mile and I might still miss your expectation. What does the Pastor or church have to do for you to do what God requires of you?
I can hear some folks fussing even now about crowns and such. Yes, Paul likens the Christian life to a race. When do racers get their rewards? When the race is over. We would think a man an idiot that stopped after 200 laps of a 500 lap race and asked for an award for being first to complete 200 laps. The only lap that really counts in that race is the 500th. If you cross the line the leader after 500 you get an award and nothing before. God blesses us here, but they are gifts to His children. Our rewards or crowns will be given when we finish the race. But even blessings are privileges and gifts not rights. Now back to the message.
Jesus takes the secular situation and applies it to the spiritual easily since there is not a true separation of life in His view. All service is to be spiritual. Your whole life is to be spiritual. Therefore, when you have done ALL you have been commanded to do then call yourself an unprofitable servant because you have only done what was commanded and expected of you. OK, has anyone done everything commanded of them today, last week, last year, ever??? Don’t lie to me or to yourself. Y’all are members of the Unprofitable Servants class with me.
Yes, I include myself here. The one preaching is nowhere near perfect. In fact, I would call myself the Chief of Sinners, but Paul already took that slot so all that is available is Assistant Chief of Sinners so I must be content with that. I often wonder why God hasn’t cut me done like the fig tree that should have born fruit and did not. (Matt 21:19-22) Interestingly He spoke of mountain flinging faith in that passage as well. His grace is truly amazing!
What scares me is that even when I admit my weaknesses some folks consider me such a great saint. I remember going to the Lord before I preached at church telling Him that I was feeling especially cold and unholy that morning and would He please give the people something as I had nothing to offer in myself. I do that fairly regularly. That morning He definitely did so because one sister came up so cheerful thanking me for the sermon and mentioning that I was so on fire for God. It certainly had to be God or else this sister was at absolute zero if she thought that I was on fire.
Indeed, has the Church fallen to such a degree that God has to scrape the barrel to get the likes of me to challenge them? That is a very scary thought. When I compare myself to what the Word says I am to be and how much I am to be like Christ I would fall into abject despair were it not for the grace and mercy of Him who died for me!
Yet, I look around me and see people who appear to be happy and secure in Jesus that think church attendance, worship and service are things that would be nice to fit into their schedule but not really necessary. They are loyal to jobs, fraternal organizations and sports but see no value in being loyal to the One that they claim saved them from their sins and has given them a home in eternity. I do not get it.
Shortly after I was saved, I thought that I had committed the Unpardonable Sin. That came because unknowingly I had thrown a gauntlet in the face of satan by telling God in my joy that even if satan would convince me I was going to Hell I would still serve Him. That was sincere, but stupid.  Anyway, the church had thrown the pastor out that had led me to Christ. Some say justifiably, but what things I heard did not seem justifiable then and even less now.

They called a pastor that was a big door-to-door person because they wanted to see people come to Christ, I fear more for filling the pews than just because they were concerned for souls. Well, this pastor got as much support as most pastors. He was hired to do the job while the saints dallied in whatever they were dallying in. The only one that was regularly present for soulwinning was the guy convinced that he was going to Hell. I watched this pastor cry because he received no support from the people who wanted an evangelistic program. If I were that poor pastor and only had one like me there with him I would have cried as well.
Where were the saved and secure? It is a question I ask myself constantly even today.

James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. (KJV)

They are somewhere out in sin. Remember James was from Missouri and said, “Show me!” You say you know good from evil and you are saved then show it. Hit and miss don’t cut it. A man or woman is to show they are faithful, which means consistent among other things. If people were as consistent with their jobs as they are with God they would be fired long ago and get no referrals for a new one.
Do you know that it is good to serve? Then if you are not serving then you are in sin even if your life is moral and upright by man’s standards. Do you believe the end is near? Then you are to be attending church even more doing the good thing of exhorting your brethren. (Heb 10:25) If you are sporadic or not doing this at all you are in sin. You know to do this good but you do it not. And you know, if you cannot perform the easiest good thing in the Book faithfully it is safe to assume you are having many troubles with the harder things. Your excuses are invalid. Each Christian is given a gift and if they are not using it for Christ they are as in deep a sin as any adulterer or drug addict. It is great that we are under grace for sure!! If not for His grace, God would have fired many members on the rolls a long time ago. Sadly, many members are headed for Hell fire because they trust in their membership rather than His grace.

1 Cor 3:11-15
11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (KJV)

For those members saved by grace that shall miss Hell fire, we have to consider the fire we will face. We are a building and blessed we are if our foundation is in Christ for we will not suffer total loss. Yet, we will lose things in the fire. Every day we live is a brick laid, a nail driven, a window placed in our building. If we use sorry materials then our building will be consumed but we will have a foundation to stand on. In sense, we will be like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in that we will be in the midst of the fire and survive but we will not come out completely unscathed as they did.
The sad thing is that the folks who think they are not building a building since they are not active do not realize that they are throwing a shack together by their inactivity. Others who are afraid to serve because of a fear of failure are already failing and creating a huge tent for the bonfire by their paralytic fear. It is amazing grace that saves us in spite of our building, but that is not to salve our conscience or lull us into sleep. Like Nehemiah, we are to rise up and build! What are you building and what are you using? Is it fireproof?

Luke 12:48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. (KJV)

Some Christians may be thinking that ignorance is bliss. If all they know is salvation they will not be held accountable for their inactivity. If you do not know something is wrong and you do it the chastisement may not be as great as for those who knew better, but there is still chastisement and loss. The Lord may just show you what kind of house you could have built and what precious stones you might have had if you sought to know and do good in your life. We are not told precisely how it works, but we are told that you will be chastised and suffer loss. Hide a talent and lose it.
In reality though, most of us know better. I would not even like to imagine how many Christians that grew up in Christian homes, went to Christian schools even Bible colleges are giving stupid excuses for not being in church and serving. Much was given them. I did not grow up in a Christian home. I did not have the advantage of a good education or spiritual instruction until I was saved at 21 and went off to Bible College at 26. It could be said that since less was given me in my youth than these other folks that I could slack off and be OK.
Not! I was spared death and Hell for 21 years while I lived like the devil and tempted God. I was given quite a bit. I have been given even more since I was saved and yet I have squandered many a year in sin and self-pity because of what other Christians did to me as well from my own self-seeking pride. Yet, I still live! Much is required of me and I am still not doing all that I could. Many will see the days come when they find no pleasure in them because they wasted them on something other than what God called them to do. Young people, serve now because when you hit your forties you will lament the wasted years!
I have been told that one of my flaws is that I have trouble saying no. Maybe that is true and maybe not. Most people I have known have trouble saying yes. Therefore maybe my handicap helps offset them a little. After my MI in ’99 folks felt that I should be careful and take care of myself. That is not necessarily bad advice. I have never really counted the time I give to ministry or anything before because I just do what I can when I can and since I am not paid there is no time clock for me to punch nor pay slip detailing my time. I am soon to be 49 and have been tired but then my best friend Pete told his Dad that he was tired and he replied, “Boy, I’ve been tired all my life.” So fatigue is normal and as I get older I suspect it will become more frequent which means I need to do all I can while I can taking appropriate rest breaks and vacations without using fatigue as an excuse.
Anyway, as a means to determine if I was overextending myself I sat down and tried to figure out what I do and how long it takes. I have been taught over the years that we should tithe our time, treasure and talent. Well, that means that 16.8 hours per week should be given expressly to the Lord. The early church had this down easily since they met every day for a meal and teaching. You figure that if they only spent two hours a day from Monday to Saturday and five hours on Sunday they were at exactly 17 hours. Since they spent other time in personal prayer and study as well as witnessing on the job (at appropriate times) and helping poor or such they were way above their time tithe.
Multiplying 16.8 times 4 puts us at 67.2 hours in a 4-week month. Well, not counting sermon prep and discussions either on the net or at work, I figured I only put in 50 some hours in a 5 week month so I am a bit behind. I really do not want to put a stop watch at my computer to figure out how much time I use for sermon prep or start and stop one when I am in discussions to know exactly how close I am. I just know that I am a tad behind and need to work on that. In fact, I do not want to be dogmatic about the 16.8 hours because it is a good measuring stick but nowhere given to us precisely in Scripture. Actually, we are to give all 168 hours to Him though we share them with employer, family, friends and such.
How are you doing? If there were a rule that said you needed to put in 16.8 hours would you be docked because you did not come close? I am not much for creeds or confessions, but the Westminster Confession of Faith answers what is the chief end of man this way – to love God and to serve Him forever. That chief end or purpose began the day you were born but until you were born again you most likely did not even have a clue or care about loving and serving God. That should have changed once you were born again. Did it and if it did is that change still active in your life?

Rev 4:10-11
10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. (KJV)

Even when we are doing well, we should remember where we get the power and opportunity to do well. The Elders will toss their crowns before Christ because they know that they are unworthy of them and that it is only by His grace they are even in Heaven. If anything survives at the Bema bonfire we will toss that before Him as well. Therefore we should work and only report what really needs to be reported only to the people who need to know it. Other than that we should just work until Jesus comes not letting the right hand know what the left hand does.
I know this has been a bit heavy. Most folks like smooth things preached to them and having “uplifting” services. My Brethren, the only way to be in an uplifting service is to be in service lifting Him up and lifting our hands up to receive all we need to serve Him properly and that shall lift us up in spirit. At times, that requires chastisement to get our attention and refocus us to proper priorities.

Heb 12:8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. (KJV)

If you felt chastised, as I did, by this message then rejoice! Ain’t it great to be a son/daughter of God? Maybe someone is feeling conviction of sin and their need of Christ. Glory, because that means you can become a son/daughter of God! Ask any mother if pain comes before pleasure during childbirth. You feel the labor pains of conviction. Now receive God’s gift of salvation through His Son and experience the joy of the new birth!!!

Rev 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. (KJV)

Praise the Lord for His love that does not leave us in our foolishness but rebukes us and chastens us to lead us into fruitful lives of service! My Brethren, let us be zealous!!! Let us covet and be jealous enough of the abundant life to receive the life we have been missing! Let us repent and turn from our foolishness and live in His love!!! We may be unprofitable servants still, but more profitable than we have been and certainly more joyful! Maranatha!!!!!

A side note. I have often been told that the King James is hard to read and understand. Before I started my commentary I spell and grammar checked this message with just the KJV verses. I have the checker set for standard style. These were the results. Words -436 Paragraphs – 20 Sentences -16 Sentences per paragraph – 1.1 Words per Sentence – 23.2 Characters per word 3.9 Passive sentences 25% Flesh Reading Ease 78.3 Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level – 6.9 What are we saying if people cannot understand 6.9 level writing? I say we teach them and bring them up not leave them at that lower level. After my commentary was added the results were – Words -4042 Paragraphs – 55 Sentences – 229 Sentences per paragraph – 4.6 Words per Sentence – 17.3 Characters per word 4 Passive sentences 13% Flesh Reading Ease 77.8 Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level -6.6 This is fairly normal for all my messages. The argument that the KJV is too difficult to understand is invalid. If we cannot teach people to read at a next to 7th grade level then it is our educational system that needs changing not the Word.





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