How do you see yourself? As a valued son or a worthless servant? As a beloved child of God or a mere minion?
Jesus came to reveal our heavenly Father, so a good sign that you understand all that Jesus did for you, is you see yourself as God’s dearly loved child. But what are we to make of these words of Jesus:
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.” (Luke 17:10)
This seems confusing for didn’t Jesus tell the disciples, “I no longer call you servants but friends” (John 15:15)? So which is it? Are we servants or friends? Sons or slaves? We are the children of God!
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)
So who is Jesus referring to? Who is the unworthy or unprofitable servant? It is not you; it is faith that is never put to work.
Idle faith is useless
Read this verse in context and you will see that Jesus is addressing a request from his apostles:
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5)
And Jesus basically replies: “You don’t need more faith. You just need to put your faith to work.”
Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep… (Luke 17:7)
Who are you in this story? Who do you identify with? You are not the servant but the master in charge of the servant. “Suppose one of you has a servant.”
Do you see? You have a servant called faith. Faith is a gift from God, but faith that does nothing is unprofitable servant. Like a servant, faith needs to be put to work.
I like how Andrew Wommack explains this in his book You’ve Already Got It:
Not using your faith is like allowing your slave to sit on the couch and do nothing but watch television all day. Instead of growing stronger and more efficient through use, their muscles atrophy and their abilities become dull. Then you wonder why your faith isn’t producing anything. You haven’t put it to work! (p.159)
The word unprofitable appears only twice in the Bible; here in the Parable of the Unprofitable Servant and also in the Parable of the Talents (Matt 25:14-30). In both stories the word is used to describe a useless servant.
In the Parable of the Talents the unprofitable servant is the one who does nothing with the talent entrusted to him by his master. The talent refers to God’s grace, which comes to us by faith alone. You may be worried that you don’t have enough faith, but that’s not the issue. The issue is whether you believe God is good, that he loves you, and wants to see you reign in life.
In the Parable of the Talents the useless servant thought his master was not good. “Master, I knew that you are a hard man” (Matt 25:24). He could not receive his master’s grace and returned it to him. He was faithless and unpersuaded and ended up in the outer darkness.
Faith is being persuaded about God
If you will not be convinced that God is good to you, your faith is useless and you will never experience his goodness in your life. You will crawl in the darkness when you could be dancing in the light.
“Sounds good, Paul. If only I had more faith.”
Aren’t you listening? You don’t need more faith; you need to put your faith to work. You need to stop wavering and make up your mind that God is who he says he is and does what he says he will.
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Rom 8:31-32)
Note the question in this passage: what shall we say in response? Faith is a positive response. It’s saying, “Yes, I believe God is for me.” That’s it. That’s faith.
Do you see? You don’t need more faith; you need to make up your mind. You need to stop worshipping at the altar of uncertainty and find your rest in God’s goodness and grace.
“How do I do that?”
Look at Paul’s second and third question: If God is for us…? He is. If he gave us his Son…? He did. When you consider all that God has done, faith gets off the couch. When you consider his awesome goodness, faith begins to work.
How do you put your faith to work?
By renewing your mind and being persuaded that God, who has already given us his Son, will supply you with everything you need according to his riches in Christ Jesus.
Grace and peace to you.