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The Parable Of
THE UNPROFITABLE SERVANT
“What are you two arguing about now?” Ken’s mother asked.
Ken switched the phone to his other ear. This was going to be another long conversation. “What makes you think we’re having an argument?” he hedged.
“I’m your mother. I can tell”, she said.
It was uncanny, but true. Ken sighed. “Alice just doesn’t understand me”, he said. “I work hard all day long so that she can stay at home and be a housewife. I’m tired when I get home, and all I want to do is eat and relax for a while.”
“Sounds reasonable”, said his mother.
“Yeah, well she doesn’t see it that way”, said Ken. “As soon as I come home, she says, ‘Honey, don’t forget to take out the garbage…. Honey, fix this…Honey, fix that…’ There’s never and end to her lists.”
“So she withholds your dinner until her demands are met?” said his mother.
“No, of course not”, said Ken. “She does have dinner ready for me when I get home. We already worked that one out.”
“I’ll bet she gives you microwave dinners”, said his mother.
“No way!” said Ken. “I get a nice home-cooked meal every night, I’ll give her that. She’s a wiz in the kitchen.”
“Oh”, said his mother. “But she doesn’t let you enjoy it? She just starts badgering you from the moment you walk in the front door?”
“No”, Ken admitted. “It’s not until after dinner that the list comes out. She expects me to get to it while she’s doing the dishes.”
“So she expects you to work around the house all night while she watches TV?”
“No”, said Ken with a chuckle. “In fact, it’s the other way around. She doesn’t know how to take a break. She’s always running around the house doing something, and she expects me to do the same.”
“These must be long lists she gives you”, said his mother.
“Not really”, Ken admitted. I can get everything done in less than an hour. It’s just that this stuff can wait until the weekend. I don’t want to do it after a long day at work.”
“I thought you went golfing and boating on the weekend”, said his mother.
“Well, I need some relaxation after working all week”, said Ken.
“Of course”, said his mother.
“You’re making me sound as though I’m lazy”, said Ken.
“Am I?” said his mother.
“You forget about how hard I worked to get through medical school”, said Ken. “Every few days I had to study all night long, just to keep up.”
“Not to mention keeping up on the house and paying the bills”, his mother added.
“Not actually”, Ken admitted. “Alice took pretty good care of me in those days. She was working full time and taking care of the household stuff. All I had to worry about was studying.”
“She was good to you back then”, his mother commented.
“Exactly!” said Ken. “But something has happened since then. She’s changed.”
“When did that happen?” asked his mother. “As soon as you finished medical school?”
“Well, no. Not right away”, Ken said, “After I graduated I still had to do one year of internship and three years of residency. It was like four more years of medical school.”
“I remember”, said his mother. “She wasn’t expecting that.”
“Neither of us were”, replied Ken. “We were both thinking that graduation was the goal. That’s why we decided to start having kids at that time.”
“So that’s when things started to change”, said his mother.
“Not right away”, said Ken. “I was just barely able to make ends meet, so Alice could stay home with the babies. I was constantly at work, but she managed all right without me. I don’t know why she seems to not be able to manage without me now. Things were harder back then.”
“So when did she start slacking off?” asked his mother.
“I wouldn’t say that she’s been slacking off”, said Ken. “She just doesn’t understand that I’m working hard all day.”
“So what does she so during the day while the kids are in Day Care?” his mother asked.
“They’re not in Day Care”, Ken said, confused. “Why do you think I work so hard? It’s so Alice can stay home with the kids.”
“So why doesn’t she have time to take care of those things she wants you to do?” said his mother.
“Well, come on, Mom”, said Ken. “You’re being awfully hard on her! I love Alice. She takes good care of the kids, keeps the house clean, makes good home-cooked meals…and besides that, she’s smart and pretty, and she loves me too.”
“I know all that, son”, his mother said gently. “I wanted to make sure you knew.”
Ken was quiet.
“You know what the next step is, don’t you?” his mother prompted.
“Yes, I know”, said Ken. “I’ll call the flower shop. They deliver.
“Good boy”, said his mother. “Any time you want advice, just give me a call.”
THE UNPROFITABLE SERVANTS (Luke 17:7-10)
“Which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he comes in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink‘? Does he thank the servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was are duty to do.’”