The Laborers in the Vineyard (Rabel)

(Back) The Rich Ruler The Request of James and John (Next)

METAPHYSICAL BIBLE INTERPRETATION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
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 41 given on May 7, 1976

Matt. 20:1-16, pp. 247-253 of transcript.

20:1For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that was a householder, who went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. 20:2And when he had agreed with the laborers for a shilling a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 20:3And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing in the marketplace idle; 20:4and to them he said, Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. 20:5Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. 20:6And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing; and he saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? 20:7They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard. 20:8And when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the laborers, and pay them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. 20:9And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a shilling. 20:10And when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received every man a shilling. 20:11And when they received it, they murmured against the householder, 20:12saying, These last have spent but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat. 20:13But he answered and said to one of them, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a shilling? 20:14Take up that which is thine, and go thy way; it is my will to give unto this last, even as unto thee. 20:15Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? or is thine eye evil, because I am good? 20:16So the last shall be first, and the first last.

It is a type of "My Father worketh even until now, and I work" sort of thing, not do it yourself. Thank God for that!

Now we have come to a very interesting and provocative parable, which Jesus gives after He talks to this rich young man and then after He comments to His followers about the difficulty of the attached person to overcome that attachment. All of this He gives in a very good-tempered and understanding and very compassionate way. There is nothing to be alarmed about, concerning this still being in the limitation of attachments. There is no need to feel guilty about this. It is something which is very understandable; yet it cannot be bypassed. It has to be taken into account and yet it is something which is, in a sense, retarding the what you might call pace or the rate of our evolution into higher dimensions of awareness. It is just something which will eventually have to be overcome, have to be attended to.

Then He tells this parable: Matthew 20:1-16. Now you can guess that there are probably many ramifications here, many meanings within meanings and implied meanings which may not be stated bluntly. However, it seems to me that in this very remarkable parable, Jesus is, among other things, striking at the very root of a wrong belief that people have in regard to prosperity and spiritual law.

Jesus saw prosperity in its true light, not in the light of human opinion and its accompanying emotions of anxiety and grief. Right here I want to call your attention to the fact that any time that human beings are dealing with dilemmas or experiences or anything on a basis of opinion, where opinion is the criterion being involved in decision-making, it is almost unavoidable that it will not be handled really justly; not really because these two factors always seem to find their way into expression when opinionating is the criteria - anxiety and grief. If I am wrong, please throw something at me, but this is what I have noticed, that when I am handling my own life on the basis of current opinion, I put my foot in it sooner or later. I make somebody mad sooner or later, because anxiety and grief seem to be attracted to opinion-orientation like iron filings to a magnet. Then you get a hassle. Jesus did not do this.

Jesus did not base His instructions on human dilemmas from opinion-level but from principle, from universal principle. That is why He always has something to teach us; no matter what era of history is reading His words, they remain applicable. They are based on principle.

Now, it would seem that this parable would not make too much sense to the hard-core materialists, the labor union leaders, to statisticians, sociologists, who are hard-core in the letter of things. To them, this parable would be a very difficult hurdle; but the parable becomes really a very beautiful illustration of the law of what I call "all-inclusive prosperity" to one who is thinking about it on the Truth level, on the principle, metaphysical level. It becomes a parable illustrating an aspect of prosperity which it seems that many persons do not think about, that prosperity is not applicable only to this one or that one; since it is a divine idea first, based upon substance, then it has to be applicable to all persons, the whole human family. So now we examine the parable and see that Jesus is using three different groups of workers as illustrations of something.

We view these groups of workers as symbolic of different ways in which you and I and every individual becomes prospered under spiritual law, according to the law of Spirit, or all-inclusive prosperity as a principle, rather than a human systemized methodology. Let me try to make that more simple.

Too often we think of prosperity and our eligibility for prosperity, in terms of where we fit into man-made systems. This is what the unions and the federal laws are all about. They are attempts to set up man-made systems to establish or make available as much equity as possible in the light of prosperity and labor. To an extent, they work; but you also see, to another extent, they are bringing equity to some at certain times, under certain circumstances, but always there is a polarity, there is the duality at the expense of other human beings. Where is the real justice if the worker gets his benefits at the expense of management, or vice-versa, or if salaries are increased at the expense of time off with your family, or time off with your family at the expense of the convenience of other workers who can't shop all at that given time? Any time it is a man-made system, you have this imbalance, this matter of timing and placing and circumstances.

So, Jesus, attempting to show us that there is something greater than man-made methodology and systems that is involved in demonstrating true prosperity. He does us a very great service.

The lord of the vineyard who does the hiring and pays the salary would stand for spiritual law itself, the spiritual law of each person's highest good or the Lord of each person's life. The Lord, the spiritual law, is the source of all our true prosperity. Now, the fields or the vineyards of the Lord would stand for the areas of work and activity, the areas of opportunity for service in each person's life. Of course, the workers in these fields are ourselves, our individual selves. Our prosperity is the result of whatever you and I do in our particular field, and we all want prosperity. We all need it, we all want to gain it in a way that seems right and best and fair to us. But many of us are still asking, "What is the right way? What is the best way? What is the fairest way for a person to get prosperity? Who deserves it and who doesn't? Who should get more arid who should got less? These are questions which come to all of us.

Now, Jesus, in this parable, uses three different groups of laborers to illustrate three different ways you and I can rightfully attain to prosperity. Now you do not want to make these three groups, three different people, three different categories of people. Think of them in the pure metaphysical sense, as three different options that each individual has to attain to his rightful prosperity. So, these three groups of laborers will illustrate three different ways in which you and I can rightfully attain to prosperity. We look at the first group, which would represent those times when you and I want something quite definite and specific. We know what it is that we want, we are going to go after it and get it, and we make the agreement with the Lord of our being that this is our goal, this is our expectancy, this is what we are working toward, and we are going to work for it until we get it.

Our prayers, then, reflect that determination, and you and I have all had our prosperity prayers of this sort. Our prayers and our work shall correspond. We know what we want, we have stated it, we have agreed to it, and we are willing to go through all that is entailed in the gaining of it. You are all doing this right now in the matter of workmanship. Absolutely. Your ordination is what you want, you have stated it, you are not ashamed of it, and you are willing to go through all that is entailed in the gaining of it, and the Lord of your being is with you, absolutely approves of it, supports you, and is cooperating with you all the way. But it is all within the framework of your choice. You know what you want, you are going to get it, and you are going to have to fulfill the whole agreement, two years of backbreaking, bloodsweating, teardropping classwork. And it is great. You are going to get it, and after you get it, you are going to say that it was tough, but it was worth it, if you are smart you will say that. If you are not, you will complain and have an argument with your Lord.

Also, this represents when we are praying for specific things. We actually name the thing that we want in the prayer, not so much the divine idea, but the actual thing, itself. When we know what it is that we want, we have been the one to make the agreement, then most of the time we find that getting it, under those circumstances, is the hard way. We pray for a long time, and we may have to work long and hard; but the time does come when we get what we have prayed for specifically, and what we have worked hard for specifically. The first group of laborers got the pay they had agreed for specifically, and this is an honest and legitimate way to attain prosperity, to know what you want, to go after it, to get it. It is also legitimate to pray for specific things and to persist and stay with it as long and as hard as is necessary for the attainment.

The 1892 covenant of Charles and Myrtle Fillmore

Instead of calling it the second group, let's call it the intermediary groups that came at various hours up until the eleventh, but the second group, then, could represent those times when you pray or work for your prosperity in much less specific terms. Remember that the lord of the vineyard said to these groups, "Whatsoever is right, I will give it to you." In other words, not what they agreed with, for, they do not name the goal. They trust the lord to name it, knowing that it will be right because the lord said that whatever is right he will give them. Then, this would symbolize when we are praying or working for that prosperity which would be right in the sight of the Lord or God and ourself. When we work or pray with that attitude, that the Lord will give what is right and best and trust the Lord's decision, will be something desirable and useful and the right form to bless us and our life; and we find that it does turn out that way.

We are never let down when we pray and work with the idea of, “I think I know what I would like, but I am going to leave it up to God. I will do the work and see it through and God will provide the right outcome of all this.” Then we are never disappointed, we are never let down. It turns out the way we thought it would. The second group of laborers get their penny also.

Now the third group: nothing is said to this group about payment, only about work. “Go ye also into the vineyard.” No words about payment or how long or the outcome, just the Lord says work and they obeyed. Why? They didn’t like standing about idle. “No man hired us.” So the Lord, in effect, says, “I’ll hire you.” That is all they wanted, to be useful and busy, at least according to the parable, because no discussion about wages or hours enters into it, just go ahead and be useful instead of idle. Be creative instead of static, creative for the sake of doing what comes naturally. So the third group would represent those times when you and I are praying just for the wonderful privilege of praying, and working just for the sake of being useful, creative, to be of service to God or to man, because we like it that way. We want it that way. Please remember, folks, we are not now referring to groups of people who are that way. We are talking about the times in our own lives that we are motivated in this way. This is all individual. You are the first, second, and third group, because only in this way will the parable be about justice. Here, when we are in this third category of service, we are not thinking so much either of specific rewards or even really thinking of prosperity as such. Here we are thinking mostly about just being active, useful, or creative. We enjoy the privilege of being active or constructive in any way and at any time. But the law is not mocked. You cannot destroy the law, you can only fulfill it, and the law is, "As ye sow, so shall ye reap. Even though we are not out after our reward in these cases, we cannot help getting our penny too. The inevitable result is an increase in prosperity for us, and each one of these laborers, too receive their penny.

The beautiful thing that Jesus is telling us here is that all these kinds of prayer-work and work-work get the same result, which is the right result, because the results come from the Lord or Spirit, and whatever Spirit produces, is good and right. No matter what our opinion might be, the actual result brought about by Spirit, by spiritual law, always is right for the individual who gets the reward or the demonstration; but we spoil it all if we start looking at other people's results and measuring what we say their work was or their amount of effort or our amount of involvement and our amount of this and that, thinking there is an inequity in spiritual outcomes. This is a mistake, mostly against ourselves. It puts us in a state of resentment and the more we are resenting another's good outcome, the less we are able to appreciate our own outcome. These guys who work so long and so hard for their pennies meant nothing to them as long as they were resenting the penny given to the guys whose work was short and easy. They did not appreciate it or care about it. It was an injustice, because someone else got the same thing and did not work hard. Even if I have to work hard and long to get a result in my own life, then I start remembering times in my life when I could get the same result very quickly and easily. I can resent that too. I can say, "Why can't I always work quickly and easily and get my answer? I had to pray long and hard to get this answer." Then I begin belittling the answer, which came from Spirit. It is the right answer.

Take healing, for instance. I am sure you have had the experience, and I have too, when all you had to do was get yourself in a kind of good, believing mood and take an affirmation and - Wow! Healing. There it is. Then, sometimes you have a healing need and you have to go to a hospital, you have to have surgery, then you have to recuperate, then you must pay those darn bills and make up the time lost at work. That is not fair, because three years ago your healing came immediately. That kind of an attitude might depreciate your present feeling that took long, hard work and expense to get. You might resent that at another time your healing came very quickly or that another person gets his healing simply by calling Silent Unity, when you must go to the hospital. Both get the same penny, the penny that counts, which is the right result, right outcome; and it really doesn't matter, folks, if it took longer or was harder or if it cost more. All the categories of successful prayer will happen to the same person, all the time. We each take our turns at going through these three different categories, and rather than one category experience resenting another category experience, all three categories should learn to "rejoice together unto "life eternal." Jesus said that in the parable of "They that sow and they that reap may rejoice together unto life eternal. See? Some fields need a lot of sowing, and some of them need quick reaping". It is the same here.

These kinds of work, to get right results, one is not better than the others; nor is any to be labeled in comparison with the others. All three ways of attaining your good results are right and good, according to the individual and the circumstances and his intentions. Why? Because all three get their reward from the same source, God; and God can only be good. As children of God, you and I have a perfect right to whatever constitutes prosperity for us. Not only that, but God gives us the right to pray and to work for prosperity in whatever way seems right and unnecessary to us under any given circumstance.

Now, remember, that when you and I work long and hard for our results, we really chose it to be that way. Honest. It is not that God chose that you have to work long and hard to get this result. It was a soul choice, and God simply agreed. There are things that our souls have reasons that they want to work long and hard to get the results, and we need that experience, don't we? But we need other experiences, too, and we need the work, the experience of working moderately long, moderately hard to get the same results.

We also need the experience of getting miraculous results. We have to know what that is like, and then we can enjoy and appreciate all good results, whatever the experience was that helped bring about the good results. This way we are making friends with life and with our own involvement in life. Sometime we have a specific thing in mind for which we will pray and for which we are willing to work. In a sense, we make an agreement with Spirit, and it may mean a lot of persistent prayer, it may entail a lot of hard work. We may even get tired, as did the first group of laborers in the parable; but, folks, is getting tired really so bad, because what often is getting tired rewarded with? By a good night's sleep. Everything is rewarded. The reward comes; this is assured. The laborers, every one, got their agreed upon penny. Now, sometimes we are not so concerned about specific things. We just want things to turn out right and good. That is the second group. "Whatsoever is right, that will I give you." So all we desire is greater wellbeing in general, the Lord's will; we trust the Father to provide it. So, we pray and we work in a more relaxed manner, usually for shorter periods of time and without becoming tired from the effort. Again, the reward does come. We get the Father's will made manifest in our life, and we feel satisfied. The laborers, every one, got the same thing.

Then, we all have times when we pray and we work, just for the joy of praying and serving. We become one of the laborers in God’s field toward a pure satisfaction of being of use to Him. We may not be praying for prosperity but just praying in devotion. Nevertheless, we find that we are being prospered just the same as when we have been praying and worked hard for it. Why? Simply because God's love is all-inclusive prosperity. That is just the way Spirit works, and the conclusion that we can derive from this great parable is that prosperity is of God, so it is for all. It is all-inclusive. It is for those who pray hard and work hard for it, it is for those who work and pray easily for it, it is for those who work and pray for any good reason, the only requirement being that we accept it from the Source, for "It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

Q. It is very important to me to understand that when we make the contract, when we decide how we are going to approach a situation or go into a situation, that is going to be our payment and our result; and I think the time segment, too, depends on that. It is what we contract for. We had a beautiful example of this yesterday. Our sixteen-year old son lost his billfold and had just received his driver’s license. It was worth a million dollars to him, and he was worried about it. So I gave him an affirmation, "In Spirit and in Truth, there is nothing hidden, lost, or stolen. God knows, and God shows me where it is." I gave that to him to use, but that was not good enough. I was impressed to go with him and Marilea, and we sat down and prayed, three times we used that prayer, and then we released it. We stipulated now. He went downstairs and two minutes later he was on the phone with the school. They had just found his billfold; so we made the contract, and the result came, but we asked for it in that manner.

A. Yes. Remember, folks, that your soul is much wiser than yourself, and your soul will often enter into agreement with Christ, that yourself may not understand. Why did my soul make THAT kind of an agreement? But trust the wisdom of your own soul, because your soul does have a point of contact with Superconsciousness, and the soul of you will often realize things and be able to anticipate things which self-awareness could not, is not capable of. So do not let self resent your soul's decision; and if your soul has agreed to getting involved in something that is going to mean, long, hard work for you with this result, do not berate the soul for making that agreement. Trust it, and you will find that when payday comes, you will say that it was more than worth it. Know that in God there is divine justice and all-inclusive prosperity.

Q. Projecting all of us into our ordination and into our fields of ministry and giving this lesson, could you tell us how we could deal with an individual who might ask a question on this lesson, which I really like: "Does this mean we do not have to do anything? Does this mean that we can just sit back and be prosperous?"

A. You assure them it does not mean that. Go over with them the exact circumstances involving the hiring and paying of that third group, that last group. Go over it with them. Do not let them jump to false conclusions. Read the conversation that the Lord has with them, and then analyze their motives, attitudes. They just wanted to be of service. They did not want to stand around and do nothing to get a penny. He did not come to that market place and say, "Oh, you poor unemployed. Here is a penny." They did not expect that. No person really wants that, not really. That may be the only thing they can do under given circumstances, like some of our welfare people, but really, deep within themselves, they would rather not be paid that way.

So these laborers were willing to just go and labor. He did not even mention pay here. They just did not like being idle, and no soul does. No soul really likes to feel that it is now at a standstill and not producing. We all want to produce. Follow that urge. Volunteer your services, even when you are not being actually requested to. You will find that the law of all-inclusive prosperity will fulfill that and will bring forth all kind of rewards.

This will be especially useful to you, friends, when in your ministerial duties, you do get involved in some of the long drawn-out laborious involvement. There are those laborious, tiresome aspects to even the Unity movement, but these too produce their good results, their rewards, and you will constantly be able to look back on these things and say, I was worth it."

Text of the original transcript middle of p.247 through the first paragraph of p.253.
Transcribed by Margaret Garvin on 04-11-2014