Scripture often refers to the Lord’s followers as servants. We are to live for God and serve His purposes, not our own. Let’s read Luke 12:35-48 for characteristics of a faithful servant.
1. Serve consistently rather than haphazardly.
As humans, we will never be perfect this side of heaven. However, time after time, faithful servants demonstrate willingness to do the Master’s will. Their commitment to working for Him doesn’t evaporate when obedience is inconvenient, uncomfortable, or costly.
In verse 37, the master is girded. He had tucked his robes into his belt, a common practice for travelling or serving. Adam Clarke’s commentary mentions that the host of a banquet often waited on his guests, even for a wedding feast.
- Jesus referred to Himself as the “Son of Man.” In verse 40, what does He say His followers will not expect?
The New John Gill Exposition of the New Testament says that the second watch was from 9:00 to 12:00 at night, which would be early to return from a wedding. A more typical time would be during the third watch, from 12:00 to 3:00 in the morning.
- If Christ were to return tonight, do you think He would be pleased with how you are currently serving Him? Why or why not?
- If you suspect He would not be pleased, what do you think is hindering your obedience?
2. Handle their time, talents, and treasure in a trustworthy manner.
Everything that a believer has belongs to the Lord. Like a faithful servant, we each should try to use possessions, gifts, and other resources in ways that honor God and expand His kingdom.
- Who is the target audience for this parable (vv. 41-46)?
In verse 42, the faithful servant oversees his fellow workers and cares for their practical needs.
- According to 1 John 4:7-8, what connection is there between a person’s relationship with God and his or her treatment of others?
- Evaluate your interactions over the last 24 hours. Would you pass the test that 1 John 4 describes?
3. Don’t indulge the flesh.
God wants His people to enjoy life and His blessings. First Timothy 6:17 says we are to “fix [our] hope on . . . God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” Our pleasure can honor the Father, as a joyful Christian is a wonderful advertisement for the gospel. However, any pleasure we seek must be one that God permits.
- What behaviors indicate that the unrighteous servant is not exercising self-control (Luke 12:45)?
The wicked servant begins to hope that the master won’t return at all. As a result, he gives himself over to his passions. Beating the other servants represents tormenting the faithful followers of Christ. John Gill wrote that when those who profess faith turn apostate, they not only fall into a lifestyle of drunkenness and debauchery but are often the most violent persecutors of sincere believers.
- Galatians 6:7-9 speaks of those who give in to the flesh (sinful desires). What are some common ways that believers indulge their unrighteous yearnings?
- Sometimes a blessing becomes sinful when we overindulge in it. For instance, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a delicious meal. But eating to excess is gluttony (Prov. 23:21). Can you identify an area of your life—a hobby, pastime, or even a task—that tends to get out of control in this way?
4. Can expect specific consequences based on the quality of their service.
Although God often rewards our faithfulness here on earth, He doesn’t want us to count on temporal rewards for our good deeds. Such a focus can make us prideful and rob us of the simple joy of obedience. However, Jesus did encourage His followers to work for and anticipate eternal rewards for faithful service.
- According to Colossians 3:23, what should motivate us to do our best, no matter what job we have?
- In this study’s focal passage and in the parable of the talents, what is the reward for those who faithfully handle what God has entrusted to them (Luke 12:48; Matt. 25:21, 29)?
- What form will our service take in eternity (Rev. 5:9-10)? How does this make you feel?
- How are the unrighteous servants punished in these two parables (Luke 12:46-48; Matt. 25:26-30)?
Luke 12:26 says that the immoral slave is assigned a place with the unbelievers. According to Adam Clarke, this word is better translated as the unfaithful. These are people who had head knowledge of God’s Word but failed to apply it properly and therefore missed out on transformation and blessing.
- Think of at least one specific action you could take to improve your application of the spiritual revelation God has granted to you.
Note: Luke 12 and Matthew 25 may seem to indicate that salvation is somehow dependent on good deeds. But these passages must be read in light of the many other scriptures that indicate salvation is by grace through faith, not by works (Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 3:28; 5:1).
Conclusion: At all times, faithful servants of God should be ready for the Lord’s return. Others may not recognize our work or honor us for serving. But if we genuinely seek to do the Lord’s will, we can confidently expect heavenly rewards for our obedience.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for calling me to Your service. Give me a humble heart that will delight in pleasing You. Help me be increasingly sensitive to Your voice so that I may be a more faithful servant. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.