Our message this morning is “Living as a Joyful Servant.” Today we’re going to talk about being a servant. Most people want to be masters, not servants. They want to tell others what to do for them, rather than to be told. Yet, the Bible teaches that there is only one true master, Jesus Christ. He calls everyone to be His servant.
1 Peter 2:16 (ESV) Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.
Isn’t that verse interesting? We are live as people who are free, yet we are to live as servants of God. Before we solve this apparent contradiction, let’s think more about what a servant is. In the Bible, the word for servant is doulos, which literally means a bondservant or slave. A servant in the Bible is owned by someone else, the master, and is not free to do as they please. In Jesus’ day, one third of the Roman empire were slaves. And another third of the population had been slaves earlier in life but had won their freedom. The Bible teaches us that everyone is a slave of something.
Romans 6:17-18 (ESV) But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
So there we have it, the two kind of slaves that exist in our world. Everyone who is not a follower of Jesus is a slave of sin. Jesus sets people free from slavery to sin so we can become slaves of righteousness. To be a slave of righteousness is just another way of being a slave of Jesus. True freedom in life only comes by living as a joyful servant of Jesus.
So, what does a slave do? They simply live to obey their master. Doesn’t that take the pressure off in life? You don’t have to figure everything out. You simply must follow and obey Jesus. You don’t have to figure out a plan for your life on your own, you simply follow God’s plan for your life.
Matthew 11:29-30 (ESV) Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
To take Jesus’ yoke is to choose to follow His instructions and commands. This is not difficult, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light. So, Jesus calls us to live as joyful servants of His.
Luke 17:1-2 (ESV) And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.
Jesus is teaching his disciples about temptation, sin and forgiveness. Everyone is going to be tempted to sin, there is no escape from temptation. However, we must be careful not to tempt others to sin. Those who tempt little ones, either physical children or spiritual children to stumble or sin are worthy of extreme punishment.
The punishment they deserve is to have a millstone weighing hundreds of pounds tied around your neck and thrown into the sea. That is simply a dramatic picture of eternal destruction in hell. A servant does not tempt others to sin. Now, what does a servant do if another does sin?
Luke 17:3-4 (ESV) Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
A brother is another servant of Jesus. If he sins against you, let him know. Not to judge him, but to help him to repent. If he repents, you are to forgive him, no matter how many times he repents of different sins. The principle here is that we as servants must be forgiving as Jesus is.
Luke 17:5-6 (ESV) The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
I think that the disciples were thinking that forgiving seven times a day would be really hard. So, they asked for Jesus to increase their faith to forgive, rather than getting angry. Jesus told his disciples that they really didn’t need their faith increased, they just needed a little bit of faith.
If they had faith as small as a mustard seed, one of the smallest seeds, they could do something that seemed impossible. That small amount of faith would enable them to command a tree to be uprooted and thrown into the sea. In other words, they had the faith to forgive those who sin against them. A joyful servant forgives.
Many people, including believers find it hard to forgive others. In this passage, Jesus commands his servants that they must forgive. In other passages, Jesus says that if we do not forgive others, He will not forgive us.
You might ask, what if the person who sinned against you does not repent? If the person does not repent then restoration of the relationship will not be possible. However, servants of Jesus must forgive in their hearts, even if the other person does not ask for forgiveness by repenting. The alternative to not forgiving is to let a bitter and angry spirit take hold of your life. And to forfeit God’s forgiveness, without which you will not see heaven.
Don’t ever say, I can never forgive that person for what they’ve done. If you’re a believer, a servant of Jesus, you can forgive them with God’s help. That does not mean you’re saying they did nothing wrong. In fact, by forgiving them, you are turning them over to God’s justice. If they do not repent, God will bring judgement into their lives. A joyful servant forgives, every time.
Luke 17:7 (ESV) “Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’?
Jesus begins to give an example of a human master with a servant. Once the servant has finished his work for the day in the field and come back to the master’s house, what is required of him? The answer to the question is no, that is not how servants are expected to behave.
Luke 17:8 (ESV) Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’?
The servant is to serve his master first and foremost. Only after the master has been served properly does the servant meet his own needs.
Luke 17:9-10 (ESV) Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”
The last question is whether the master thanks the servant for obeying? The answer is no, what the servant did was simply what he was instructed to do. When a servant of Jesus does everything he as been commanded to do, he be prideful. A servant who obeys Jesus must be humble and consider himself unworthy.
None of us are worthy of being a servant of Jesus. We are simply doing our duty and being blessed by Him for obedience. We find joy in obeying our master and carrying out His plans for our lives. A joyful servant obeys.
A joyful servant of Jesus obeys whatever he is instructed to do in God’s Word. A servant does not argue with his master. A servant does realize that there is reward in this life and eternity for obedience. Disobedience brings punishment in this life in one form or another.
Repeated disobedience without repentance is not the behavior of a true servant. Repeated disobedience without repentance shows that a person is not Jesus’ servant. He is a servant of sin, as that is his lifestyle. You cannot be a believer, a servant of Jesus and live a lifestyle of disobedience.
The more that you grow in obedience to Jesus, the closer your relationship with Him grows. The more that you grow in obedience, the more your joy in life grows. As you seek to obey Jesus in every aspect of life, you will have greater impact in God’s kingdom. Obedience as a servant of Jesus is the path to blessing, in this life and reward in eternity. A joyful servant obeys.
Luke 17:12-13 (ESV) And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”
As lepers were considered unclean under the Old Testament law, they often lived together, apart from other people. They knew that they were not supposed to get close to clean people, so that stood away from Jesus at a distance. Together, they called out to Jesus, calling him Master and asking for mercy. They were asking for Jesus to heal them of their leprosy.
Luke 17:14-15 (ESV) When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice;
In this case, Jesus did not go over to them and touch them, He simply gave them a command. They were to go and show themselves to the priests. According to the Old Testament law, a person could only be pronounced cured of leprosy and clean after having a priest examine them.
As we read the account carefully, we see that the lepers were not immediately healed. They were healed when they obeyed Jesus instructions and had begun their journey. All ten were healed of their leprosy, but only one turned around and began to praise God. He turned around and came back to Jesus.
Luke 17:16-19 (ESV) and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”
The tenth leper worshipped Jesus and gave him thanks for healing him. The man who returned to give thanks was not a Jew, but a hated Samaritan. Jesus held him up as an example of those who are blessed and give thanks to God.
What of the other nine? They were healed and undoubtedly, declared clean by the priests. Yet, let’s see what Jesus said to the tenth healed leper who was thankful. Jesus told him that his faith had made him well, literally in the Greek, you faith has saved you.
Were the other nine, who were healed, were they saved? Probably not, they simply took God’s blessing of healing for granted. Their whole lives had been changed, but they took no time to be thankful. A joyful servant is thankful.
As we live as obedient servants of Jesus, God will bring blessings of many kinds into our lives. If we’re not careful, we can begin to take God’s blessings for granted. Or even worse, we can begin to think that we have received those blessings by our own strength and work. True faith acknowledges where every blessing that you have comes from.
Every good gift that you have in your life comes from God. The appropriate response of a servant of Jesus is to give thanks to him. Giving thanks to God for his blessings should be every day, as He blesses us every day. When we don’t give thanks, when we’re not grateful, we are actually being disobedient. For God’s Word tells us to be thankful for every blessing. Sometimes, God has to wake us up by withholding blessing until we develop a thankful heart. A joyful servant is thankful for every good gift God has given.
God desires for each one of us to live as joyful servants of Jesus. Joyful servants always forgive those who hurt and sin against us. We must never say that there is anyone that we can’t forgive. A joyful servant obeys Jesus, because that’s what servants do. We no longer are servants of sin, but of Jesus.
A joyful servant is thankful for every good gift of God in our lives. Rather than grumbling and complaining, we are full of thanksgiving. As you forgive, obey and give thanks, God will fill your life to overflowing with His joy. His plan for our lives is to live as joyful servants each and every day.