Luke 17:5-10 – “And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
6 So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. 7 And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? 8 But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. 10 So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.'” NKJV
I have heard well-meaning and well-intentioned Christians and some preachers speak of God being obligated to them because of their faith or obedience. This passage is problematic to that view and while I am not suggesting that God does not commit Himself to us we should never develop the attitude that He owes us anything or is obligated to our directives.
The request was “increased faith” and in responding to that request Jesus went far beyond what one would have thought and addressed what I call a “Christian Entitlement Mentality”. He spoke of the seeming smallness of faith but illustrated its power and potential. He then addressed something that is often overlook regarding faith and that is “obedience”. Jesus addressed this in the Centurion whose servant the LORD healed. The Centurion demonstrated his understanding of authority and the chain of command and in response to that Jesus said, “I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel.” That is powerful.
Here he speaks of a servant after having done his daily chores and labors who coming in from the field. The servant was being obedient doing what he was supposed to do. Jesus asked if they thought the master would say to that servant, “Come at once and sit down and eat?” He did not wait for their response but informed them that this would not happen. The master would tell them to prepare him something and after he had eaten they could eat. He concluded by asking, “Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not.” He then says, “So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have don what was our duty to do.”
Some have made this message about the impossibility of man living before God without sin but He did not say “sinful servants” rather “unprofitable servants.” We have earned nothing in our service. We have not established a heavenly bank account from which we withdraw at our choosing. If God blesses us it is “unmerited favor” not because we deserve it or have earned it.
God does not “need” our service, He chooses to allow us to participate in the Kingdom. Our ability to live and perform His commands and our assignments is by Grace. When we do what is right we are simply doing our “duty” not “earning” favor with or obligating God. The best service we can offer is mingled with imperfections and we continually come short but God in His incredible grace and mercy will bear with us and He chooses to lavish His good things on us because of love not because we earned it.
Please avoid a Christian Entitlement Mentality it will pervert and destroy our relationship with God and tends to create an elitist mentality that is counterproductive to the Kingdom of God.
God bless you as you go through this day!