Here in chapter 17 of his gospel, Luke again does not shy away from relaying to his readers the “difficult sayings” of Jesus Christ. We can’t simply say, “That makes no sense at all!”and move on to the next chapter. Luke 17:7-10 is here for a reason—a critical reason—and it is important for us to take the time to think about what’s being said and pray for
wisdom to understand and put into practice the attitude which is fitting for the child of God.
So what is being said? What’s the meaning behind this little puzzling scenario? First, it must be cleared up that Jesus is not approving thankless or unappreciative behavior. He is not establishing a class system of those who rudely receive service and those who humbly give it. We should never assume that the largest slice of pie should be served to us.
More importantly, however, is the point being made about the Christian’s relationship with God. John Gill, English pastor and theologian, helps us break this text into bite size pieces to more clearly understand it.
So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded
What have we been commanded to do? Gill wrote that this includes "... preaching, or hearing, or reading, or praying, and every other act of divine and religious worship; or all acts of justice and benevolence among men; every duty both for matter and manner, as it should be, according to the will of God, from right principles, and to right ends, and by the assistance of the Spirit and grace of God."
say, "We are unworthy servants…"
"... Not in such sense as unregenerate men are, who are disobedient, and to every good work reprobate and unfit, (Romans 3:12) (Titus 1:16) or as the slothful servant, who did not what his Lord commanded, (Matthew 25:30). Nor is this the sense, that they are unprofitable to men; for they may be, and are very useful and serviceable to men, and to the saints; but that they are so to God, by whose grace and strength they are what they are, and do what they do; and can give nothing to him but what is his own, and his due; and so can lay him under no obligation to them, nor merit any thing from him; no, not even thanks, and much less heaven and eternal life."
"… we have only done what was our duty."
Gill points out that "when anyone has done the most and best, he has done but what he should, and what he was obliged to, and in that is greatly deficient." In other words, even if we could claim to have done all that we were commanded to (and that's not possible ... we're still sin-filled, rebellious people), we cannot claim any credit or merit for what was accomplished. We have not right to brag about what was done and definitely would be fools to place any confidence or hope in those deeds. We only did what we were told to do.
So, let's apply what Gill has written. Even if we lived a full and long life giving ourselves totally to helping others and serving our God faithfully, we still could not claim any gold star or cash bonus for an excellent performance rating.
It is only by God’s grace and mercy that we have any desire or ability at all to serve Him and love others. So ditch the “Hey! Look at me!” attitude. You’re only doing what you were commanded through strength, desires and endurance not your own for the name, glory, and honor of another.
Fortunately, serving Christ is not a thankless job. As the apostle Paul stated: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV). Our God is so good and rewards diligent faith—even when the source of that faith is God and not us. The bottom line is this, who are we to cop an attitude by demanding personalized spa service and recognition for the work we’ve done? We’re only undeserving and worthless slaves of the King. Get over the entitlement mentality.