This summer, the Clergy of St. Martin’s have selected some of their favorite Daily Words to share again. We hope you enjoy this “best of” series.
Today’s Daily Word was originally sent out on Nov. 15, 2022.
Entitled vs. Servanthood
Luke 17:1-10

In our Daily Office readings today, we continue our journey through Luke’s Gospel. In many Bibles, today’s reading, Luke 17:1-10, has the heading: “Some Sayings of Jesus”. However, no one would be faulted if it were instead called, “Some Hard Sayings of Jesus”! Look at what He says. First, if someone causes another to sin, it is better for them to jump into the sea with a millstone for a bowtie (17:1-2). Second, forgive anyone who sins against us and repents, countless times daily (17:3-4). Third, if we had faith the size of a grain of a mustard seed, we could command trees to jump into the sea, and they would obey us (17:5-6). And finally, to regard ourselves as “unworthy servants” (17:7-10). You wouldn’t find these verses on a Hallmark card!

So, what’s going on? Remember, first, all these “sayings” are part of one conversation and not arbitrarily sewn together. Jesus makes one coherent point. Second, Jesus says these things on His journey to Calvary. He knows that He will be crucified for our sins so that we can experience the forgiveness of our sins. Thus, Jesus commands His disciples and followers to be holy as He is holy. Jesus does not cause us to sin because sin leads to death. Therefore, we ought to live holy lives that do not cause others to sin. However, if someone does sin against us and repents, even countless times daily, Jesus commands us to forgive because He forgives us countless times daily. Now, we might mistakenly believe that this act of holiness requires tremendous faith. Rather, even if we had faith the size of a mustard seed, not only could we command trees to jump into the ocean, but we would also forgive others countless times daily.

What prevents us from forgiving others? Often, it’s not our lack of faith but our attitudes of entitlement. We may not want to forgive because the other person does not deserve our forgiveness. Thus, Jesus shares the antidote to entitlement: to regard ourselves as “unworthy servants.” We were bought with a price. We belong to Christ as His slaves of righteousness (Rom 6:18). To be an unworthy servant of righteousness is to abandon all entitlement.

Thus, as we journey with Christ, picking up our own crosses daily and following Him, we should live as servants. The entitled abhor the Cross of Christ because they cannot stand its demands. But the servants love the Cross of Christ because they know it frees them from sin. The entitled cannot forgive generously because they believe that they earned their forgiveness. However, the servants forgive prodigiously because they know that they were never worthy of God’s love and forgiveness.

The entitled pay little to no regard of the impact their words and deeds have on the people around them because they care little for the salvation of others. The servant desires none to perish but all to have eternal life, and stewards every thought, word and deed to draw all to Christ.

It is hard to be a servant. However, even if we had faith the size of a mustard seed, we would be servants worthy of the name of Christ.

A Prayer
Almighty God, whose dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other that the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Rev. John D. Sundara
Vicar for Worship and Evangelism
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