Luke 17:10 Unworthy Servants

Luke 17:10

So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'” – Christ Jesus


God apposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).

How often as Christians we suffer from the pride associated with God’s grace and blessing. The nation of Israel was no stranger to this. Writing of the glory of Israel’s fortress, the psalmist takes pride in the structure and beauty of the Holy City (Psalm 48:12-14), even stating ‘this is God‘. Yet as he exhorts his reader to look upon the wonderment of the city’s fortifications, he is unaware that God is disinterested in what man has made, and subsequently become proud of. Within a few short generations God would utilise the Babylonians to utterly destroy Jerusalem  burning it and God’s temple to the ground. Even when rebuilt hundreds of years later, Christ himself would rebuke his disciples  as they wondered at the temple’s construction, stating it will be torn down brick by brick (Matthew 24:2).

In raising ourselves up – God tears us down (Isaiah 26:5).

The story of Israel is one closely concerned with pride. Christians are also subject to this fall. Taking pride in your standing in Christ, calling yourself a mighty man of God, God’s chosen Apostle or anointed servant, will soon find you losing your status and ending up at the last of the procession- persecuted, insulted and abused. At which point the suffering will teach what humility is actually about. Paul learnt this the hard way. As Christ stated “I will show him how much he must  suffer for my name” (Acts 9:16).

Francis of Assisi and Mother Teresa knew well the danger of priding oneself in God’s grace. For this reason both humbled themselves to the point of starvation, accepting all persecution and vowing a life of poverty void of ANY possessions. Subsequently due to their ability to humble themselves, God used them so powerfully that their legacy remains in the hearts and minds of millions.

Few of us will be remembered by millions. Simply due to pride and our inability to humble ourselves before God.

When Christ taught his disciples to state they were unworthy servants, he sought to protect them from boasting about their position in Christ. To protect them from pride. As the song goes… to God be all the glory. Not us – God.

Even our good deeds, when displayed, are viewed by God as dirty rags (Isaiah 64.6). Our hearts, although  under repair, are still degenerate in comparison to God’s holy heart (Jeremiah 17.9). If you think yourself sinless then you call God a liar (1 John 1:10).  John learnt humility whilst in jail on the island of Patmos. He was not on a tropical island writing Revelation, he was in a Roman jail. A humbling experience for anyone.

God humbles us to remove the evil from within us. Those that accept such humbling, as the means to repairing  our sinful pride, understand the sheer weight of our sin – our ongoing sin. We are far from perfect Christian or not. If at any point you were to call Francis of Assisi a mighty man of God – he would have been  aghast at your ‘compliment’!

In his own writings he spends page after page taking about his sinful condition and the burden of carrying it until death, even after salvation, Francis continued to humble himself right up to his death, a death that included a prolonged state of disease. However, due to his ability to truly humble his pride, God used him powerfully and never once did Francis boast or think of himself more highly than he ought. On the contrary, Francis talked only of his weakness and sin and his need for on going grace, even though  he was about the most loving human being you could ever meet.

We are all unworthy of God’s grace. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer called it , God’s costly grace. A costly grace that we turn into cheap grace. When pride seeps in after we are saved, we deceive ourselves and begin to risk our salvation, forgetting we are only wild branches that are grafted into the root by the grace of God alone . In lifting our standing in Christ up, we no longer repent. How often we fall due to our pride in Christ, and yet it is Christ himself  that humbles us to make us aware of our condition. To remind us, saved or not, we are unworthy servants. I am happy to remain such, it may just save me from the same fate that befell an all powerful enlightened angel. One who is no longer God’s friend, rather; he is now called God’s adversary.