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The Parable of the Unprofitable Servant (Rabel)

(Back) The Parable of the Dishonest Manager Jesus Raises Lazarus to Life (Next)

This is a series of lectures given by Mr. Edward Rabel, member of the faculty of S.M.R.S.
Winter semester 1976 - 2nd. Yr. Class. Lecture 38 given on April 12, 1976

Luke 17:7-10, pp. 231-233 of transcript.

17:7But who is there of you, having a servant plowing or keeping sheep, that will say unto him, when he is come in from the field, Come straightway and sit down to meat; 17:8and 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? 17:9Doth he thank the servant because he did the things that were commanded? 17:10Even so ye also, when ye shall have done all the things that are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which it was our duty to do.

He goes on and gives this parable about the unprofitable servant. This is not a popular parable, have you noticed, probably because the lesson it teaches is not popular. A lot of people are not ready to hear it yet and therefore do not cotton to it as they do some of the others that have a more pleasing message; but Jesus is telling us that it is an unprofitable thing for us to do only those things we have to do and to give only as much of ourselves as we are required to give. In other words, just doing your duty because you must or else, is not profit-making for your Lord.

Now, who is your Lord? Your Lord is the law of your highest good, the indwelling law of your highest good, your own highest good, your eternal unfoldment into greater and greater degrees of goodness or awareness of goodness. So to do anything which increases your degree of awareness of goodness, to do anything which facilitates your encounter with your highest good, is called "serving the Lord". If it means going to church, if that is going to increase your awareness of your highest good and facilitate your encounter with your highest good, then that is serving the Lord. Staying away from church might do it, but whatever facilitates your encounter with ever-increasing good, first in your awareness, then in your perception, is called "serving the Lord". In other words, you are making a profit for your Lord; but in making a profit for your Lord, that profit actually consists of growth of your awareness of your own highest good, so in the overall analysis, we profit. By serving our Lord and making a profit for our Lord, we are serving and making a profit for our individuality and for our world and our fellow human beings.

Now Jesus is showing us, here, one of the practices we still are engaged in, which is retarding this and preventing it. It is a false belief, which is that by doing what I have to do anyway, I am serving my Lord, I am making a profit for my Lord; but by doing only what you have to do, you are promulgating even exchange, in metaphysical terms. We are sustaining status quo when we do what we have to do because we have to do it. For instance, you have to work to earn your income, most people do; so they call working for the income they have to have, a virtue. Labor, in and of itself, even though it is a necessity, is often called a virtue. It is not; it is a necessity. We shop, and we pay for what we get. We pay our taxes. Virtue? Have to. We educate our children. Virtue? Have to. We nurse the sick and shelter the aged. Virtue? No, have to. We try to be kind and polite. Virtue? No. We have to, so we could list many, many more of these things which people are doing because they have to, because they would be in disgrace if they did not. They would lose their friends and family if they did not, they would not get their grocery bag filled if they did not, or they would be put in jail. These are doing things which we are commanded to do, and this is fine; we must do them, but we must not over-rate our virtue in the doing of necessity, because this is being a servant, doing what he is required to do.

Now, I know what is in some of your minds. What about those who do not even do that? People who are not even doing what they are required to do, we pity because they are on their way or already are in hell. They are going through useless, unnecessary suffering, and at least someone who does what he has to do stays out of that! But he does not make progress for his Lord. The only person who increases his own highest good is the person who does and is more than he has to do, has to. In other words, he does his good as a matter of choice. He uses his freedom of will, his freedom of expression; and as a matter of choice, he does more than he has to, and in making that kind of a choice, he is serving his Lord. It is no longer even exchange. It is spiritual effort and growth. Jesus said, "Ye have heard that it was said, 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth', ye have heard that it was said, 'You will love them that love you'" because you have to. It is status quo, even exchange. You will do favors for them that did favors for you. You will invite to your dinner party those whom you are sure to get a return invitation from, and in that way, even exchange requirement fulfilling occurs, and the overall name for this is "peace as the world giveth", status quo. No profit, no growth in that sort of thing. But when we break through that status-quo-type of thing and make any kind of an effort here not because we are forced to but because we have a choice to give a little more, to do a little more, to share a little more, forgive a little more than is required, the vicious circle is broken and profit-making proceeds. Do we mean profit-making in the mundane sense? No, an increase in the availability of manifested or expressed good appears.

The last bit of marriage counseling I did, and I have a rule about this, but you know what rules are for, don't you? One of my rules is that I do not counsel two people at the same time. I will not counsel parent and child, or husband and wife, etc.; but now I see that was not a principle but a personal policy that does not hold water. The last time I was counseling I had a husband and wife together. The marriage was unhappy. Both persons involved in this relationship were unhappy. They were both seeing right, from their own personal point of view, and things had gotten to the state where their unhappy marriage was having very harmful effects on other individuals very close to them. It looked like kind of a deadlock for awhile, but I began to realize that the wife's whole approach to the problem, her whole reaction to everything was that he had promised so many things to her if she would marry him during the courtship and the proposal stage of this, that he had promised her all kind of things he would start doing and would start doing; but most of all he had promised to love her forever. And he was not keeping his promise. Now, get this: he had promised to love her forever. This is the theme she kept bringing up. See? She wanted a promise kept.

Now, if a dear one loves you only because at one stage of a relationship, he or she promised to, and he is the kind of a person who always keeps his promises, and that is why he still loves you, what do you really have? But what is the only reason you want someone to love you? Because they love you, because you are the right channels for each other to give and to receive this remarkable something called love. You do not want people treating you right because they promised to treat you right or to stay with you because they promised to, but because they want to treat you right, they want to stay with you, and they love you because they love you. Promises have absolutely nothing to do with it.

Can you see now why Jesus was so strong on this "don't forswear yourself?" Because that is never a reason for doing it, because I promised to. The same thing applies to this being a profitable servant. If I do something useful and worthwhile and kind and generous, but I do it only because somewhere along the line I promised to do it, that is even exchange, it is promissory note fulfilled. Whether or not there are any promissory notes about it, if I do it because I am in tune with my own spiritual Lord and I serve the Lord by doing things that I see as being needful, not things that have been promised or are required.

I may put myself out a lot by doing things that I see as needful and desirable, but I will gain by that very putting out, and my world will gain. This is all connected with many things in Sermon on the Mount. For instance, turning the other cheek is a matter of choice, and that choice would be based upon a matter of understanding spiritual law, which does not say you have to turn the other cheek, but if you, you are declaring faith in the outworking of divine law, which will give you something you could not have gotten in any way by even exchange. You slap my cheek, I'll slap your cheek, which is the negative side of you scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back. You do me a favor, I will do you one. You pull a dirty, dirty on me, and I'll pull three dirty, dirties on you. That is not even exchange. This even exchange business and hoping to be rewarded for it. There is a type of reward, but not the type of reward we could have. The type of reward is, at least we do not go to hell, but the doing more than you have to is a matter of conscious choice, serving the divine law. Here is where the real rewards come from, reward which comes directly from the Father, which is growth in consciousness.

Text of the original transcript of the 3rd paragraph of p.231 through the 1st paragraph of p.233.
Transcribed by Margaret Garvin on 04-09-2014