by Gary Carpenter

Email Page    Print Page
To bottom of page

Luke 17:9  Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.

In Luke 17:9 Jesus plainly says that a man would not "thank" his servant because he had done the things that were commanded him. However, just two chapters later when Jesus tells the parable of the man who entrusted the ten pounds to the ten servants, He reveals the Master's attitude toward a faithful servant:

Luke 19:17  And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.

Even though the Master did not actually use the words "thank you," he was most certainly commending this good servant, and gave him a promotion in his stewardship. It is splitting hairs to say, "Well, the Master did not actually 'thank' the servant though."

We are wanting to understand the heart of the Master toward his faithful servants and what Jesus desires in the hearts of "first class servants." To say "thanks" or to "commend" makes very little difference, so why did Jesus make a point of it in Luke 17? That is the question. The conclusion that Jesus came to in Luke 17 was:

Luke 17:10  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.

As we have shown before, the word "unprofitable" does not mean "of no value, or worth, or benefit" to the kingdom of God. After all, Jesus is trying to make them disciples like unto himself, the "Son who serves" by reaping a harvest of souls for the Father. Jesus, THE "Serving Son," was most certainly profitable to the kingdom of God as He served the Father.

A second proof is Matthew's account of the man who was unwilling to trade his talent. Jesus called him unprofitable in the sense of not being of value, worth, nor benefit to the kingdom.

Mat 25:30  And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Most certainly Jesus did not intend for His disciples to "make confession" that they would be like that wicked servant. So what did Jesus mean by "say we are unprofitable servants" in Luke 17?

He meant, say "We do not serve for personal profit. We are not hirelings. We are bond slaves by our own free choice. We serve for love's sake alone, not for personal profit."

The parable of the ten talents gives us a second witness that this is the attitude the Master wants His servants to have. Notice that he commended the faithful servants who had traded their pound and gathered increase. Notice also that He increased the scope of their stewardship to now also include authority over cities instead of merely over money. But notice also that HE DID NOT "PAY" THEM FOR THEIR SERVICE!

THAT is the attitude of heart that Jesus is trying to reveal to His disciples in Luke 17 when He says the Master does not "thank" his servant for doing what is commanded him. As servants, we are not to expect our Master to say something like, "You obeyed Me? You served Me today? How unexpected! I am surprised at your unanticipated generosity that you would obey your Master's commands. Please, accept this payment as My 'thanks' for your most gracious behavior."

Bond slaves do not expect, nor desire, payment for their service to the Master. They chose to be His slave of their own free will, for love's sake alone. They do not have the attitude of hirelings, nor do they expect "payment" for their labors to serve Him whom they love. Bond slaves who are "first class servants" only desire that the needs of their Master be met FIRST. When that is accomplished, their heart is already full. They require no payment. They require no personal "profit" for their labor of love for Him.

Again, the best analogy to help me understand this is the way my grandfather's farm operated. When his sons came in from the fields after serving all day, grandfather was not "surprised" that they had done the things that he assigned for them to do, neither was his provision for them at the dinner table prorated to each son based on his performance in the field. He did not "thank them" as if their service was something unexpected. Neither did they expect him to "pay them" as though they were employees.

They did what "serving sons" do ... they served! Once the day’s labors had been accomplished and that day's increase had been gathered into grandfather's barns, THEN they came to dine at the family dinner table because they were sons, not because of their service!

Again, grandfather did not line them up and "pay" them separately each day as though they were employees. These were sons, who served. Their service in the field had nothing to do with their provision at the family dinner table.

  To top of page

Back « to the Teaching Menu
or on to the Next article » Guaranteed Failure In Stewardship