The Best of Man is the Least God Requires
The Best of Man is the Least that God Requires
My text today is found in Lk. 17:7-10. “But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.”
Let me make some observations about this passage. First, notice that we are considered servants of God. We think of ourselves, perhaps, too highly from time to time. Certainly we are Children of God. But God gives His Children tasks to perform. Notice that the servant in this story is out plowing or feeding cattle. Surely these chores are not simple – they require some effort on the part of the servant.
Second, notice that the servant’s job is not done, even when he completes the assignment given to him. When he comes in, he is not allowed to immediately go to supper. This is true of our Service to Christ as well. Our responsibilities to Him are never complete. There is always something else that we must, and should do.
Third, notice that our desires and needs and wants must be subject to His. The servant in this story could not eat until the Master had eaten. Now, I don’t want us to think that Christ is dependent upon us for nourishment, or that He needs us to do anything for Him in order that He might have sustenance or so that His Existence might be improved. But the thought here is that our Needs must wait for His Desires. In other words, the things that He Desires us to do must come first. It is true and it is certain that this servant in this story did expect to eat, because we read that afterward thou shalt eat and drink. But that meal and that nourishment must wait upon the discretion of his Lord. The same is true of each of us as the Servants of Christ. We fully expect (and rightly so) to be sustained and nourished by our Master, but the timing of that fulfillment waits upon our Lord.
It could even be that the meal that is spoken of here in this story might speak of the prospective Peace and Nourishment that we will receive after that our labors are done. And it is very encouraging for us to be reminded of this fact as well. We do receive great Blessings at the Hands of our Saviour and Master in this life, but those Blessings that He has in store for us in Heaven are much Greater and Higher and Purer Blessings! This we can look forward to with great Expectation and Comfort.
Lastly, I want to point out that the Master of this servant in this parable has a certain Expectation as to the Performance of the servant. We read again in v. 9. “Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.” The same is true of us. And this is what I want to mainly talk about today. Our God has certain Expectations concerning us. And, as the title of my message today says, the Very Best of Man is the Least that God Requires.
Let’s spend some time now looking at what it is that God Requires of us, and how that we should give to Him the Best that we have in all these areas.
We Should be Godly in our Lives
Let’s begin these thoughts in a very practical way. If God is our Master, and if we are His Servants, and if we are commanded to be like Him, then shouldn’t we be like Him in the very best way that we can? We read in 1Pet. 1:13-16, “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance. But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
Notice that Peter informs us that this is not always easy to do. He says that we should gird up the loins of our minds. This indicates to me some degree of effort on our part – just as the servant in the parable that we read was instructed to gird himself and serve his Master. And so, Peter says that we should not fashion ourselves according to the former lusts. This implies that we were formerly attracted to the lusts of the flesh, but that now we must depart from these things.
The main thing that I want us to see from what Peter has to tell us here, is that we are instructed to be Holy. So many times we diminish this concept of Holiness, or we ridicule some of those that, through their own works strive for Holiness. We tend to shove this idea of Holiness to the background by saying that we have the Holiness of God to clothe us, and that we are seen Righteous and Holy by God because of the Work of Jesus Christ. Well, this is true. We do have the Righteousness of Jesus Christ to represent us before the Father in Heaven. However, while we are here in this life, it is our obligation, nay it is our deepest and sincerest duty, to live Holy before our God. The Best of man is found in his pursuit of God and holiness – and this is the least that God requires of the Christian.
Would you have your sins and your lusts to be hid in the Righteousness of Christ? Would you not rather have it to be that the life that you live would be one that could represent the Holiness of God before the Wickedness of the men that surround you? In this world of evil, shouldn’t the holy lives of the saints of God shine ever brighter upon the backdrop of wickedness and sin which seems to consume humanity? Give God the Best of what and who you are! He desires and requires no less! The Standard for our lives is Jesus Christ – and it is Him and His Works and Words that we are following and in pursuit of.
Did you ever stop to think about what this word “Holy” means? The first definition given in the Merriam-Webster online Dictionary is as follows: exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness. Do you realize that when the Lord instructs us through Peter (and through Moses) that we are to be Holy, that He is requiring us to be perfect in goodness and righteousness? Now, if one is to be found Perfect, then as I understand it, that one should be without sin. Of course, we are quick to say that this is an impossibility – that any man should be without sin. However, the fact that it is impossible does not remove it as a Goal. Don’t you realize that the more you strive to be Holy, the closer to it you will become? Since we are commanded, as Servants and Children of God, to be Holy, it is our Duty and Responsibility to comply. And, as the Servants of God, as we have already stated, the Very Best that we Have is the Least that God Requires. When you have done all that you can do to be Holy, that is the Least that God Requires and Expects.
We could look also at 1Pet. 2:9 where we read, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priest hood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:” In this verse we are told clearly that we are a holy nation. I believe that this applies to all of those whom God hath called…out of darkness into his marvelous light. Do you want that marvelous light to shine upon all of your sins and lusts that you commit in your ignorance? Or would you rather that that marvelous light would shine forth upon a servant, whose works are meant to Glorify and Magnify the One Who has saved him? Not that these works will add anything unto God; and not that these works will improve ourselves in that they will make us more saved; but that these works might be shined upon, and that the Lord might know that we are doing our Best and giving unto Him our Best – because that is the Least that we should (and must) do.
We Should Love our God
Let’s think about another aspect of our Service to God. We read in Deut. 10:12-13, “And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?” It is important for us to see that to Love the Lord our God is not optional. This is something that is a Requirement. The Lord Jesus repeats this Requirement in the NT when He says, “…The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” (Mk. 12:29-30.) If we think again about the title of the message today, and we try to reconcile this idea of giving the Best that we have with this commandment to Love the Lord, then what is the result? The result must be, that we give the Best of our Love to the Lord our God. We love other persons, and we love other things; but the best of our love must be directed towards, and reserved unto, God. I believe that this is what Moses is telling us, in Deut. 10:13, which we have already read. “To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?” It seems to me, that those that Love the Lord the Best, and that give Him their Best Love, are those that keep His commandments. If we know what He desires us to do, and we Love Him with all of our Being as we should, then the Result should be that we will be Obedient unto Him and Keep His Commandments. This is both the least and the most that God requires of us – this is the best of man, and the best of who we are – delivered unto God as a loving and faithful servant, and as a living and obedient sacrifice.
Let’s look at another verse from the writings of Moses. We read in Deut. 30:19-20, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” How wonderful it is, to cleave unto the Lord our God! This is an example of the Love that we should have for our God. This is the Least that God Requires of us.
In these verses we are told that God is our life, and the length of our days. I know that these verses are teaching the Children of Israel, that the result of their Love that they have for the Lord (or rather a result of the manifestation of their Love for God which can be seen in their Obedience) is that they will have life, and that the length of their days will be prolonged. However, I believe that we can also teach that our Love for God should be such that He is our life, and that He is our Focus and our Desire throughout the length of our days. This, Brothers and Sisters, is the Best of our Love.
We Should Trust our God
Let’s think about one more aspect of our lives here on earth, in which we should give of our Best to the Lord, as His servants. You know, a good Master Who has good Servants, will inspire Trust in those Servants. And a good and loving Servant will Trust his Master. In the Parable that we began with today, I would like to think that this particular Servant trusted his Master to give him his daily needs. We could say that we as the Servants of God, do not go about doing His Bidding in a half-hearted or ill-tempered way – wondering, “What’s in it for me?” No, we go about doing His Bidding because we Love Him. We give to Him the Best that we have and are, and we give to Him the Best of our Love. And, since we see Him as our Master, and we see Him as our Sovereign Lord and the Omnipotent, Eternal God that reigneth, we also will Trust Him to care for us and to fulfill His Promises.
So many times, we as Christians tend to trust too much in our own abilities or strengths. This should not be. Why should we trust in a weak and fallible being, when we can trust in the Almighty and Infallible Creator? We have the Living God as our Hope and our Strength! Who better to trust and depend upon? The Psalmist said, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.” (Ps. 118:8-9.) And then Solomon said, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” (Prov. 3:5-7.)
If you think about it, it is just as important to Trust the Lord as it is to Love the Lord. Really, we cannot have one without the other. If we Love the Lord, then we must certainly Trust Him. This can especially be seen in Salvation. One that Loves God, will Trust Him through the Faith that is given to Him. It is also true, that any Christian that Trusts in the Lord must also Love Him. Why would we Trust someone that we do not Love? Certainly, we Love Him, and because of this we Trust Him to Care for us.
Let us, as Christians, give to Him all our Trust, and not reserve any in ourselves. Just as we have been discussing the Best that we Have today, let us be sure to give Him the Best of our Trust. Don’t let’s go about Trusting somewhat or sometimes in the Lord. And let’s don’t go about sharing or rationing our trust amongst a variety of prospects. Rather, let us give the best, the most, and the entirety of our trust and commitment into the Hands of God, and upon the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. Let us give to Him all of our Trust and all of our Faith. God expects no less and requires no more that this: “They that trust in the LORD shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even for ever.” (Ps. 125:1-2.)
Consider the words of Paul the Apostle: “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (2Tim. 1:12.) We have committed unto him the keeping of our souls. How much more we should commit unto Him all things that pertain to this life! As we travel on this Way to Heaven, let us give to God, and commit to God, the Best and the Most – all of who and what we are. He will keep us; He will strengthen us; He will preserve us unto Heaven. “Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.” (Ps 73:23-28)