Monday, May 28, 2018

Luke 17:10 -- On Being Unprofitable but still Of Worth

"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."
Luke 17:10

Luke here tells us that even if we do everything that God asks, we have only done our duty, when we often like to consider ourselves superheroes when we can manage to follow instructions. :)  This is very similar to Mosiah 2:21 where King Benjamin explains to his people "I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants."  That sermon helps us understand this lesson as well.  The idea in both verses that we are unprofitable servants seems negative in some ways, but, just like the comparison to dust in Mosiah 2:25, this "unprofitable" idea isn't about making us depressed or sad or wanting us to give up.  It is about helping us understand God's atonement and his mercy and grace.  Before we can really understand what God does, and has done, for us, it is important to understand our debt to him.

God wants us to be obedient, and to follow his commandments so that we can learn and grow and progress, but the thing is that obedience and learning and goodness... no matter how well we do... doesn't earn us a ticket to heaven.  Luke is clarifying that here... that no matter what we do on our own, we can never provide a return on God's investment in us.  None of us are perfect or able to earn salvation on our own.  Only with God's assistance, and through Christ's atonement, can we achieve that.

It can seem contradictory if we think that we need to make an effort, but that our efforts are pointless, but saying that we are unprofitable servants (or comparing us to dust) doesn't mean that our efforts are pointless at all.  They are worthwhile, because they help us grow and learn.  It's like little children.  No matter how well they try to help us make cookies, for instance, they are going to fall short of being able to do it themselves.  But the effort isn't useless, because they are learning and becoming.  It will take years, but after they grow up and develop a lot more, they will be learn to make cookies on their own.  Similar to that, we spend our earth lives trying to help God make something of ourselves, others, and the world.  But no matter how well we do, we will fall short.

Falling short is okay though, because even though the consequences of falling short would normally be disastrous, fortunately, God loves us more than anything and despite our unprofitability, we are of infinite worth to him, and he made a plan and a way for us to be saved, no matter the cost to himself.  He doesn't ask us to be profitable.  He asks us to be as good as we can be, and to keep trying.  Through the atonement, Christ makes up the difference between our effort and the actual requirement for attaining heaven.  In return, he only asks that we make an effort to keep growing and learning and stay on track so that someday we can grow into our potential.  Therefore, we can see that overall we are truly unprofitable servants, but that our efforts are still very important to our futures.

Today, let's remember that we can't do what God can do, and pitting our wills against his only results in burnt cookies.  But instead of being depressed or angry at our Heavenly Father because of our own unprofitability, let's instead understand the immensity of what he does for us, every day, and the value of the power he grants us to choose and to build and to help others.  Let's start listening to him, learn what he has to teach us, and grow up to be better and brighter than we currently are.

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