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                        "THE PARABLES OF JESUS"

                 The Unprofitable Servants (Lk 17:7-10)


1. Jesus often used the master-servant relationship in His parables to
   teach His disciples important principles concerning their service to
   a. Illustrating the importance of forgiveness in "The Unmerciful 
      Servant" - Mt 18:21-35
   b. Condemning the mercenary spirit of service in "The Laborers In 
      The Vineyard" - Mt 20:1-16
   c. Stressing the need for faithful and fruitful service in "The 
      Talents" - Mt 25:14-30

2. Once again He uses the master-service motif...
   a. As He tells the parable known as "The Unprofitable Servants" 
      - Lk 17:7-10
   b. In which He demonstrates an important attitude to be found in His

[As we study this parable, it might be well to ask ourselves:  "What 
should be our attitude about the service we render to God?"  With that
question in mind, let's first consider...]


      1. It may appear this parable is disconnected to what preceded it
      2. But in describing the power of faith (Lk 17:5-6), it would be
         easy for the disciples to fall into a snare of pride
      3. This parable would certainly help keep things in proper 

      1. Jesus challenges His apostles to consider how they would act
         toward a servant
         a. As master, none of them would be expected to invite the
            servant to sit down and eat with him - Lk 17:7
         b. As master, any one of them would expect the servant to 
            prepare his meal and serve him, eating only after he is 
            done - Lk 17:8
         c. As master, none of them would likely thank the servant for
            doing what has been commanded of him - Lk 17:9
      2. So they are to view themselves in regards to what they do as
         a. When they have done that which they were commanded, they
            should view themselves as "unprofitable" servants - Lk
         b. That is, they have simply done their duty as servants, 
            doing nothing worthy of merit - Lk 17:10b

      1. Be careful not to conclude that the parable presents the 
         proper attitude of the "master"
         a. Jesus is depicting the normal expectation of a master to
            make His point
         b. In Lk 12:35-37, He describes what He Himself will do as
      2. Instead, this parable is illustrating the proper attitude of 
         the "servant"
         a. When all that is commanded is done, we have not earned or
            merited anything
         b. We have simply done that which is our duty as servants
         c. Whatever reward we might receive is due to grace, not 

[This parable is therefore illustrating the attitude we should have
toward our own service to God. Since we were "bought at a price" (1Co 
6:20), we are truly servants and should have the proper attitude of
servitude. With this explanation, here are some thoughts related to...]


      1. Keeping God's commandments are important (see below), but they
         do not merit or earn our salvation - cf. Tit 3:4-5; Ep 2:4-9
      2. After everything we do, we are still "unprofitable servants" 
         - cf. Isa 64:6
      3. Whatever reward we receive is one of grace, not merit!

      1. While we cannot earn or merit our reward, obedience is still
         a. "We have done that which was our duty to do." - Lk 17:10
         b. "...keeping the commandments of God is what matters." -
            1Co 7:19b
         c. "He who says 'I know Him,' and does not keep His 
            commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in Him." - 
            1Jn 2:4
      2. Many people tend to equate obedience with legalism...
         a. Especially when it is pointed out that they are not keeping
            a particular command
         b. But legalism involves the idea that one earns or merits 
            salvation by their obedience
         c. If we believe that obedience earns our salvation, then we 
            are truly legalists
         d. But if we obey God out of love and duty, we are simply 
            being faithful servants!


1. This parable reminds us of the need for obedience, as do other 
   a. Only those who do the Father's will enter the kingdom of heaven 
      - Mt 7:21
   b. We must observe all that Christ commanded - Mt 28:20
   c. Christ is the author of salvation to all who obey Him - He 5:9
   d. When He comes again, those who did not obey His gospel will be
      punished with everlasting destruction - 2Th 1:7-9; cf. 1Pe 4:17

2. But it's primary lesson is to remind us that no matter how much we
   do for the Lord...
   a. We are still "unprofitable servants"
   b. Whatever we have done was our duty as servants to begin with

3. Therefore, whatever reward we receive will be one of grace and not
   merit; and what wonderful grace that will be, to hear the Lord say
   at the end of time:

   "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful 
   over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter
   into the joy of your lord." (Mt 25:21)

Are you a faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, doing that which
is your duty to do?
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