Lord, I count myself merely as a redeemed servant of God.
Read LUKE 17:1–10
Sin, Faith, Duty
17 Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. 2 It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3 So watch yourselves.
“If your brother or sister[a] sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”
5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
6 He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.
7 “Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? 8 Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? 9 Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 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.’”
a Luke 17:3 The Greek word for brother or sister (adelphos) refers here to a fellow disciple, whether man or woman.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” (Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?, Zondervan, 2007)
Humility is a slippery thing – just as soon as we think we have it, we’ve probably lost it. Few things are worse than the kind of false humility which is really the other side of pride – it manifests in self-pity and low self-esteem but is just as consumed with self. Real humility is rooted in a personal security and peaceful self-acceptance which allows us to think of ourselves less and liberates us to serve others. In this passage Luke strings four of Jesus’ related sayings together: the unifying theme is humility. First, humble people know how to care for others, especially those who are vulnerable and easy to harm (1, 2). They understand that their lives deeply affect others around them and consciously avoid offending or abusing people.
Second, humble people forgive quickly (3, 4). People who can forgive seven times in one day can do so only because they have encountered grace and understand how profoundly they themselves have been forgiven. This realization leads to grace being freely extended to others.
Third, humble people are people of faith, people who understand that even mustard-seed-sized faith is incredibly powerful (5, 6). Far from being showy, faith is voluntary obedience to God’s will, ready to do whatever he requires.
Finally, humble people live lives of service to God and others (7–10). Jesus provocatively refers to his disciples as servants and encourages them to realize that obedience is only their duty, which they must freely choose. Humble people become liberated through service and, not surprisingly, don’t expect acknowledgement or gratitude for their efforts.
This is a rigorously high standard of living. How could you cultivate this kind of careful love, gracious forgiveness, strong faith, and selfless service? Ask God for help and resolve anew to pursue true humility.
Lord, keep us from the dreaded spiritual pathogen known as pride, something your Bible condemns from cover to cover.