The Worthless Servant

By John Foll, finished 5/5/2018.
© Copyright 2018 John Foll

“Then another came, saying, `Lord, here is your pound, which I kept laid away in a napkin; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man; you take up what you did not lay down, and reap what you did not sow.' He said to him, `I will condemn you out of your own mouth, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking up what I did not lay down and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money into the bank, and at my coming I should have collected it with interest?' And he said to those who stood by, `Take the pound from him, and give it to him who has the ten pounds.' (And they said to him, `Lord, he has ten pounds!') `I tell you, that to every one who has will more be given; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them before me.'" Luke 19:20-27 RSV.

The NASB has this as, “you worthless slave”:
"He said to him, 'By your own words I will judge you, you worthless slave. Did you know that I am an exacting man, taking up what I did not lay down and reaping what I did not sow?” Luke 19:22 NASB.

Jesus’ words here apply to all who make the claim of being one of God’s people and have been in the church or the synagogue for years, who are not doing enough or anything at all to help others or show them how much He or His Father love them. They are ‘worthless servants’, ‘worthless slaves’. They knew what their master required of them, but did nothing about it. “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Micah 6:8 KJV.

Did you know that everyone is a ‘slave’ or a ‘servant’ to someone or something? Paul declares: “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” Romans 6:16 KJV. So there are but two choices in this life, you can yield all the way to God and become His servant or you can become a slave or servant of sin and death. Which will you have? If you are a Christian that means that you are Jesus’ servant or disciple. Those who are not Jesus’ willing servant are not really a Christian at all. Jesus will especially judge all who ‘claim to be a Christian’ by higher standards than those who don’t. Out of their own mouth they will be judged. To know whose side you are on, you must know who you are yielding yourself a servant to obey. The Holy Spirit or ‘the flesh’. Once you know who you are yielding to, on a regular, daily basis, you will understand your life’s final destiny. That is why this parable of the worthless servant or worthless slave is so important! For God will hold all of His servants accountable in the day of Judgement as we shall see below.

This parable by Jesus in Luke 19:20-27 is an illustration of the coming judgement. The “worthless slave” and the “wicked servant” represent the people of God who do not let their light shine for His glory. Jesus called them a “worthless slave.” Also note what He said here: “By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” John 15:8 NASB. In another related parable Jesus said: “And He began telling this parable: "A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. And he said to the vineyard-keeper, 'Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?' "And he answered and said to him, 'Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.’ "” Luke 13:6-9 NASB. This parable represents the coming judgement. But it happens before the final judgement, because this was primarily a prophecy about the Jewish nation who were rejecting Him. We are not saying this to bash the Jews, for many Christians also are not bearing fruit for the Master. This prophecy applies to all ‘Christians’ as well who bear no fruit for Him. This parable is a warning to all of God’s people everywhere who are fruitless and lifeless. Eventually everyone’s life’s record comes up before God. He gives all a chance to repent and get to know Him and bear fruit for His glory. Of all who make the claim of being His people, He looks at them carefully, longing for His own to finally bear fruit for His glory. James says, “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.” James 5:7 KJV. Here ‘The husbandman’ is God the Father. Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” John 15:1-2 KJV. Oh how our loving Heavenly Father waits for His ‘people’ to finally bear fruit for His glory! He has long patience for it. Every branch He prunes that it may bear more fruit (John 15:1-2) and every lifeless branch, gets cast into the fire to be burned. Jesus said, “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” John 15:6 NASB. And so all who do not abide in Jesus - they will not bear fruit for God’s glory, and sadly they eventually will be gathered up and cast into the fire to be burned.

James 5:7 is also making a reference to the coming judgement when he says, ‘Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. This message from James has a special application to all those who claim they are waiting for Christ’s Second Coming. Those who make the claim they are waiting for Jesus’ Second Coming, if they really believe it, will ask God to help them bear much fruit for His glory. Those who do not heed this message to bear much fruit for God will be in trouble. Jesus was repeating what the Father said when He said, ‘I have waited three years for it to bear fruit, cut it down.Jesus represents the gardener who said fertilize it and give it more time to bear fruit. Jesus represents the vineyard keeper in this parable in Luke 13:6-9, because he said, ‘I will fertilize it and dig around it – if it doesn’t bear fruit next year then cut it down.Jesus pleads with the Father to give His people more time to repent and bear fruit for His Father’s glory. Yes, the Father has long patience that His people would finally bear fruit for His glory, and if they would do all that He asks them to do, and seek Him with all of their heart. If they would seek after Him with all their heart, He would grant them the precious blessing of bearing fruit for His glory!And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 NASB. But make no mistake! The vineyard keeper or the gardener in the parable of Luke 13:-6-9, said, 'Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.’ Luke 13:9. Jesus said, leave the tree alone a year, until it has been fertilized, and if it bears fruit next year fine, but if not, ‘cut it down.’ This is in answer to God’s command and question: Cut it down, why does it even take up the ground? All of the true subjects of God’s kingdom are not ‘cumberers of the ground.’ They just don’t take up the ground, soaking up all the blessings from God, and the rich root of the vine, Jesus, but they bear much fruit for the Master.

Back to our original text in Luke 19:20-27: Jesus called that man a “wicked servant” in the King James Version. The NASB version calls the man a “worthless slave.” Both are right. Those who make the claim of following and believing in Jesus, yet do not bear fruit for the Father’s glory are not only a “worthless servant,” but a “wicked slave.” God has provided everything we need to love and serve Him with: He gave us Jesus His Son for the sins of the world (John 3:16-17), and He gave us the promise of the Comforter or the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you.” John 14:16-17 NASB. But those who will not take the time to get to know God, love and obey Him, will not have this blessing, and will not be able to live a righteous life, which makes them “wicked” and “worthless.” Those that are trying to work out their own righteousness by their own skill or will, or those who make the claim of being God’s people who are not too concerned about the sin in their life, alike will not receive the blessing of righteousness that God wants to give them through the Holy Spirit, and will be that “wicked servant” whom God will take away even what they don’t have. Both of these examples are self-righteousness, because real righteousness only comes from God. Those who will not bear fruit for God, who make the claim of being one of His children will eventually be judged for this. God will eventually say, “Why does it take up the ground! Cut it down!”

Unfortunately, someday soon these sad words will be uttered against all who refuse to let Jesus dig around the soil of their heart and receive the spiritual ‘fertilizer’ from Him, the dew of Heaven or the gift of the Holy Spirit. This would have given them the spiritual growth they needed in order to please the Master of the vineyard. This is what God will say someday to those wicked, worthless and lazy servants, unless they repent and allow Him to make a change in them that they cannot make themselves. Bearing fruit for God is not salvation by works, but the lack of good works in these “wicked servants” shows that they had no vital connection with God, did not know Him, and had not availed themselves of His many precious promises.Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1:4 KJV.

All are promised salvation if they would only believe in Jesus, God’s only Son. And if they truly believe, they would get to know God, keep His word, and the Holy Spirit would be abiding in them, and then they would bear much fruit for Him. No! The wicked, worthless and lazy servants of God have not claimed His rich promises, nor believed in them, and have not been born again of the water and of the Spirit (John 3:3, 5), and will not enter the kingdom of Heaven. Then it will be a sad day for their soul, because at the end of their probation at the judgment they will be accounted with the enemies of God, as Jesus said: “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.’” Luke 19: 27 KJV. Those who will not avail themselves of the wonderful salvation that God has provided them through Jesus, and allow Him to fill them with the Holy Spirit, unless they repent, will become His enemies, and will be that “wicked”, lazy and “worthless” servant who doesn’t want Jesus or His Father to rein over them; they will not have God rule over their heart, because they do not love Him. Jesus reiterated this when He said: ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me.’ John 14:23-24 NASB. So only those who truly love Jesus and His Father will keep Jesus’ word and have Him and His Father making their abode in their heart, through the presence of the Holy Spirit.

From the words of their mouth will God judge those wicked servants. They knew that their Heavenly Father wanted them to bear much fruit for Him, so at the very least they should have put His talents that He gave them out to “the exchangers” and traded with it to increase it in some way. They could have at least given money to God’s servants who were preaching the Gospel to the poor, and to His missionaries in foreign lands, instead of doing nothing. But instead, they hid their talents that God gave them, showing their disdain for Heaven’s blessings. While it is true that God is love, many people forget that they have a responsibility to others in this world to help them, and follow all of His commandments, which are to love Him more than anyone or anything else, and to love their neighbor as themselves. Matthew 22:36-40. If you do not want to be that “worthless” or “wicked slave,” ‘trade your talents’ in such a way as to enrich God’s kingdom and help it grow. This is to teach your neighbor of God’s love or help them in some way, so that God’s kingdom can grow. Those that do not love God enough to help Him grow His kingdom, do not really love Him or Jesus, and will eventually become that “wicked” “worthless” slave who is God’s enemy.

Be not like that “wicked,” lazy, and “worthless” servant of God who did not avail themselves of God’s many promised blessings, and allow Him to make them all that He wanted them to be. Let Jesus dig around the soil of your heart, allow the trials that He sends you to mold you and shape you. Allow Jesus to fertilize the soil of your heart, and give you the water of life, that you may become born again. When you become truly born again, and get the Holy Spirit for yourself, it will be the most natural thing in the world for you to bear much fruit for God, it will be your greatest desire! This will be proof that the Holy Spirit is in your heart and that you know God.

Conclusion:
Let’s finish out that parable by going back to the beginning of it, which takes place in Heaven, as those who love God are ushered into the Pearly gates:

When he [Jesus] returned, having received the kingdom, he commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by trading. The first came before him, saying, `Lord, your pound has made ten pounds more.' And he said to him, `Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.' And the second came, saying, `Lord, your pound has made five pounds.' And he said to him, `And you are to be over five cities.' Luke 19:15-19 RSV.

And the Parallel passage from Matthew:

And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” Matthew 25:20-23 KJV.

So whether you have received 10 talents from the Lord, or 5 or 2 or even 1, invest them all for the glory of God, so that when Jesus comes back to take His people home He will say, ‘well done thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.’ Enter into the joy of Heaven, that Jesus has prepared for all those who love Him. And there will be much joy throughout the endless ages of eternity – for those who have invested the Master’s talents for His service that He gave them! Amen.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you, and give you the refreshing dew of Heaven, and grant you many precious fruits to bear for the Master. That you may enter into the joy of your Lord. Amen.

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