Unprofitable servant

Join Our Email List

The Unprofitable servant of Matthew 25

unprofitable servantWhat does it mean for a Christian to become an unprofitable servant? . . . and what does it take to become  a profitable servant?

Whatever the meaning of this or any of Christ’s parables may be, they all have  a definite and vital meaning.  The fact that Christians are all over the map about what Christ meant to teach through the parables is a clear indication that the enemy has been able to obscure important principles that prevent Christians from enjoying spiritual fruitfulness.

The emphasis of the entire parable is on the servant that buried his talent.  Why did he do this and what does his example reveal about someone who becomes an unprofitable servant?

The unprofitable servant feels his talent is insignificant.

In his thinking, his talent would neither help nor hinder the work as a whole.  Remember, he was a servant just like the others.  He did not just sit around twiddling his thumbs until his master returned, he was busy doing something, just not what he should have been doing.

Many Christians today have never even considered that someday they will have to give an account of the spiritual care of the “talents” (souls) for which they have been entrusted. Even if they do have a clue to the spiritual responsibility they have in caring for souls, they reason that their contribution will neither help nor hinder the church of which they are a part.  They reason, “What I do is so little, so insignificant next to all that is going on in this church.”

Those who accumulate more talents are usually the most faithful.  Permit me to use financial giving as an example.  Make no mistake; finances are not only material things.  Finances, riches, money, material wealth are all very spiritual matters that have eternal consequences.  It is a mistake to treat this subject as non-spiritual.  Some people think that the poorest members of the church are the most faithful in returning their tithes.  This is usually a mistake with the exception of the other extreme the richest, who often think their tithe is too big for the church’s needs.  Quite often those members who are less financially prosperous with smaller incomes and thus a smaller tithe, reason that since their part is so small (in monetary value), that it will make no difference in the income of the church.  They think that the quantity is so irrelevant that it will not be any help.  The mistaken vision in this example is that financial giving and the paying of tithes is to “help” the church.  For them the matter is the absolute monetary value.  God however does not consider the monetary value that each one returns, but the measure of faithfulness of each servant.

Hypothetically, the brother that earns $1,000 per week and pays a tithe of $100 is just as faithful as the brother that earns $10,000 per week and pays a tithe of $1,000.  That is what happened in the parable: the servant who received five talents produced another five, the servant who received two another two.  Both servants were faithful in doubling their initial amount, the proportional amount entrusted to each one.

The truth is that those servants who have just one talent run the greatest risk of being unfaithful, by being unwilling to pay the price of growing and developing in the work.  They imagine that merely attending church services on the weekends, singing some hymns, and paying their tithe is enough.  Many even go to the point of affirming that it is the pastor’s job to involve himself in the work of the Lord for the furtherance of the kingdom, since he has received more talents and takes a salary from the church to get the work done. This is a serious mistake because the Lord will require an accounting of each servant for the proportional measure of what He entrusted to them and not the quantitative amount that they received.

Many times those servants who receive more talents are those who seek more and strive to multiply their talents without regard to any title that they may receive in the body of Christ.  God will not only judge us by what we have done, but also by what we have not done.  The problem of the unprofitable servant that buried his talent was not what he did, but what he did not do.

God is interested in our faithfulness.  In the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, we learn the criteria by which God will reward us.  The reward will not be according to how much we have done, but according to how faithful we have been.  There is a difference.  Some may do more than others and gain the same reward, because they showed the same degree of faithfulness.  In the parable of the workers in the vineyard, all the workers received the same salary irrespective of the duration of time they worked.  Some people, who read this parable, conclude that there is no difference in rewards and that there will be no distinction among the servants.  I believe however that the bible teaches that there will be.  One of the goals of this parable is to show that the reward of those workers will not be for how much they worked, but for how faithful they were.  In the same way, it shows that the reward does not depend upon the amount of time of conversion.  Some convert at twelve years of age, others at thirty and others just before death.  Does this suggest that those who come to the Lord first will have a greater reward?  No, not necessarily, it all depends on the degree of their faithfulness.

Suppose that I hire a laborer at five in the afternoon and he finishes his agreed upon task at six o’clock after just one hour.  We can say that he was faithful.  Now suppose that I had hired a person at eight o clock in the morning to do the same task and he stopped at noon and walked off the job without finishing his task.  Should he receive the same amount as the first?  Of course not!  Although he worked for three more hours than the first worker that I mentioned, he was not faithful.  Therefore, I will not reward him but will penalize him.  The point here is not the need to do something to gain a reward.  The main point here is if you were faithful with what I gave you to do or not.

The unprofitable servant has a wrong perception of things.

The servant whom the Lord called wicked and slothful thought that talents were for people, when, the truth is that they are for the Lord.  The heart’s desire of every faithful servant of God should be to do everything within his ability to multiply the talents that God entrusted to him to please the one who has called us.

The unprofitable servant is ashamed of the talent he has.

He felt embarrassed to use only that one talent.  How many people have received a talent from the Lord, but because of their reputation, they neglected to trade with it?  The Lord called the apostle Paul who wanted to minister among the religious Jews to a ministry to the pagan Gentiles.  This apparently was not Paul’s preference.  He felt he was uniquely qualified to reach the Pharisees and doctors of the Law.  Paul could have revolted against this but he perceived God’s purposes and remained faithful to God’s purposes through his ministry.  He could have buried his talent but he did not and God greatly used him as a result.

The unprofitable servant neglects to trade his talent because doing so  involves risk and hard work.

In the Bible to bury something, is symbolic.  The servant buried his talent in the earth: this speaks of the force of worldliness, of the power that the things of this life have to smother the talents that God has given us.  The love of the world has the power to bury our talent.  When we involve our heart in the things of this world, we stop developing and fulfilling the purpose for which we have been called.

The act of trading in this parable implies faithfulness in the use of our stewardship.  Each person receives at least one other person to spiritually care for as a steward of God.  We can only build up and multiply our stewardship when we practice it.  This is what the priesthood of the believer means.  Not only pastors and paid church staff must care for souls; every member of every church has this responsibility. God has called us to minister as kings and priests, ministers of God (minister simply means servant).  Every born again Christian should raise and develop at least one spiritual son or daughter. God did not compose the members of His church to make up a club or organization but constituted them as a body, each member having its specific role in multiplication for its continued growth.  If you have never done so before, stop and think who has God-given to you to develop in the church?

We must be careful not to confuse responsibility and function with position.  There are brothers who want to do things in the church as a function of a natural structure, with a title for their position like for example, leader of children’s ministry, or administrative pastor.  The position is not important, the talent is important.  The position should never determine or limit the talent.  There are people in the church who have a position and a title but who exercise no spiritual care in raising up God’s children.  Similarly, there are people in the church who faithfully exercise spiritual leadership but occupy no official position nor possess any title.  So just as there may be no talent to accompany any given position, there may be no position (in man’s eyes) to accompany any given talent.

Let us now consider how the Lord judged each one of His three servants.

But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.  After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.  (Matthew 25:18-19)

The Lord Jesus is coming to reckon with His people, both the profitable and unprofitable servants.  Most churches do not often teach this truth. However, the Word shows that He is coming to reckon with each member of His body.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.  (2 Corinthians 5:10)

We will all appear before the Judgment seat of Christ to receive the good or bad that we have done through the Body.  If our works are good, we will receive a reward.  If we have done evil, God will discipline us in that Day.  In light of these facts, we should live in the fear of the Lord as far as the works that we practice are concerned.

So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.  (Rom. 14:12)

In case you are wondering about where the blood of Christ that covers all sin comes in concerning this matter consider this: God has forgiven and forgotten everything that the blood of Christ has washed.  However, whatever God’s people have not confessed before Him, or whatever sin they have not genuinely repented of, remains written down before God.  For the blood to work in our lives, it is necessary that there be confession and repentance of sinful acts and disobedience.  To confess a sin not only means that we acknowledge our sin but that we agree that it is offensive and unacceptable to God.  The danger for many Christians is spiritual oblivion and a seared conscience that otherwise would lead to repentance.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  (1 John 1:9)

He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.  (Proverbs 28:13)

How about you my friend, how is your life before God?  Many Christians, instead of recognizing the error of their sin, and repenting before the Lord for becoming an unprofitable servant,  justify their attitudes by coming up with all sorts of varied excuses for why it just is not practical for them to obey the whole Word of God literally in all situations.  It seems that most everybody imagines that their special circumstances excuse them from fulfilling the obligations that the rest of the body of Christ should fulfill.  In other words, they always seem to find an excuse for not repenting and practicing what God has called them to do.  God sees and records all of this, since the blood of Christ does not cover any sin whenever there is no confession and repentance. Scripture indicates that as Christians we must be open and transparent, placing every failing, sin and disobedience under the blood.  If this is not done then we will pass through the judgment seat of Christ and Instead of receiving rewards we will be disciplined and although we will still be saved, it will be a salvation as of by fire (1 Corinthians 3:15)

In the Word of God, there is a sequence in the Judgment of God for believers: the first step is the blood.  If we confess and believe on the Lord, His precious blood washes us.  If we keep falling, this shows slavery in our lives. From the blood then we will need to advance to the cross, which is the next step in the sequence.  God nailed our old man to the cross and freed us from slavery to sin.  However, God through the Judgment Seat of Christ will treat whatever sin or failure the blood and the cross have not resolved.  He will correct and deal with us in relation to sin in our lives.

So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’  His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ Matthew 25:20, 21

The Lord said the same thing to each of the faithful servants.  Now the Lord is watching and looking for the level of faithfulness of each one of His servants.

I believe that what we do here is just a preparatory training for what we will be doing in the millennial reign of Christ.  What we do today is “the few things”, but as we are faithful in these “few things”, God will qualify us as profitable servants and place us over the “many things”, later.


One Response to “Unprofitable servant”

  1. Dennis D says:

    So what happens to the unprofitable servants? Sounds like they are all doomed!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: