I have always been challenged by Luke 17:5-10 -
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. 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 sit down at table’? 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’? 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.'” (Luke 17:5-10 ESV)
I don’t like to think of myself as an “unworthy servant” (or “unprofitable”).
The phrase “unworthy servant” reminds me that I am a servant. Regardless of my vocation, education, or affiliation, I am a servant. I never have the option of responding, “I am no man’s servant” (as Aussie John recently recounted in this comment). There is no place for pride nor for demanding my own desires. I am a servant.
The phrase “unworthy servant” also reminds me that I am unworthy in the sense that I am not worthy to be a servant. I deserve rejection, exclusion, and death, but I do not deserve to be a servant.
The phrase “unworthy servant” reminds me that I am unworthy in the sense that I do not add worth to my Master’s household. Nothing that I do increases his wealth or ability. Nothing that I say increases his honor. If I were removed from my Master’s household, his worth would not diminish.
The phrase “unworthy servant” reminds me most of all that I have a Master. My Master deserves my allegiance, my respect, and my obedience. My Master owes me nothing, yet offers me everything. My Master does not need me, but loves me completely. My Master can do everything, yet he chooses to work through me.
I am an “unworthy servant”. But, for some reason known only to my Master, he places his ring on my finger and his cloak on my shoulders. He calls me brother.
I am an “unworthy servant”. The more I recognize this and accept this, the more I will grow in faith… and the more I will understand grace.