Monday, January 19, 2015

Mormon Monday: Parables and Envy

Yesterday at church, the speaker quoted Elder Hollands talk titled: The Laborers in the Vineyard.

I want to relay a bit of that talk that was read in Sacrament.
I wish to speak of the Savior’s parable in which a householder “went out early in the morning to hire labourers.” After employing the first group at 6:00 in the morning, he returned at 9:00 a.m., at 12:00 noon, and at 3:00 in the afternoon, hiring more workers as the urgency of the harvest increased. The scripture says he came back a final time, “about the eleventh hour” (approximately 5:00 p.m.), and hired a concluding number. Then just an hour later, all the workers gathered to receive their day’s wage. Surprisingly, all received the same wage in spite of the different hours of labor. Immediately, those hired first were angry, saying, “These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.”1When reading this parable, perhaps you, as well as those workers, have felt there was an injustice being done here. Let me speak briefly to that concern.

First of all it is important to note that no one has been treated unfairly here. The first workers agreed to the full wage of the day, and they received it. Furthermore, they were, I can only imagine, very grateful to get the work. In the time of the Savior, an average man and his family could not do much more than live on what they made that day. If you didn’t work or farm or fish or sell, you likely didn’t eat. With more prospective workers than jobs, these first men chosen were the most fortunate in the entire labor pool that morning.
Indeed, if there is any sympathy to be generated, it should at least initially be for the men not chosen who also had mouths to feed and backs to clothe. Luck never seemed to be with some of them. With each visit of the steward throughout the day, they always saw someone else chosen.
But just at day’s close, the householder returns a surprising fifth time with a remarkable eleventh-hour offer! These last and most discouraged of laborers, hearing only that they will be treated fairly, accept work without even knowing the wage, knowing thatanything will be better than nothing, which is what they have had so far. Then as they gather for their payment, they are stunned to receive the same as all the others! How awestruck they must have been and how very, very grateful! Surely never had such compassion been seen in all their working days.
It is with that reading of the story that I feel the grumbling of the first laborers must be seen. As the householder in the parable tells them (and I paraphrase only slightly): “My friends, I am not being unfair to you. You agreed on the wage for the day, a good wage. You were very happy to get the work, and I am very happy with the way you served. You are paid in full. Take your pay and enjoy the blessing. As for the others, surely I am free to do what I like with my own money.” Then this piercing question to anyone then or now who needs to hear it: “Why should you be jealous because choose to be kind? 
As the speaker read these words, I realized that he was talking to me.

Some of you are aware that we've been trying to have another baby for a while. It has been a bit trying for me. Adam was conceived very quickly, and so I've been worried that it's been taking so long to get pregnant with our second.

Don't get me wrong. I'm SO grateful for Kevin, and I can't imagine the pain of those who've been trying to have children and don't already have one. I have gained a lot of empathy for those who've had this struggle, and I've become more sensitive to things that I say around others as well.

Even though I am very grateful for Kevin, I still am baby hungry and I have prayed and fasted for another child. After we weaned Kevin, I thought for sure that we were going to get pregnant right away. That hasn't happened. Every month, I gain hope that we are pregnant, only to have my hopes dashed. It's been very difficult, and faith-challenging.

I know children are a righteous desire, and so it's been hard to understand why we haven't had our prayers answered yet. One of the most difficult things is that so many people around me seem to be having babies, and I can't help but be a bit jealous. However, I have really tried to be happy for their sake as well.

Just because others receive blessings, doesn't mean that we have been treated unfairly. I think that is a huge issue that plagues our world at the moment. We all think that we deserve every blessing. Really, we don't deserve anything. Everything we have is a blessing, and we should be grateful that our brothers and sisters are receiving blessings as well.

There is a scripture in the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 2: 20-22) that says:
 20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—
 21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
 22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
Essentially, the very fact that we are alive is a blessing from the Lord. Then, when we keep His commandments, He blesses us immediately. We can never put God in debt to us. So, why does he do so much for us?

It is because He loves us.

And if He loves us, should we not love one another and be happy when someone else is blessed?

Some of my favorite people to be around are people that rejoice when I rejoice. How much fun is it to talk to someone and tell them good news only to have them try and outshine your accomplishment or belittle it? It is a lot more fun to tell people about your accomplishments when they are happy with you and make you feel good about what you have done.

I want to be that kind of person. I want to be happy for them when they have good news without having any internal reservations or jealousy.


  1. I'm sorry you are going through this, Rebecca :(

    When I was divorced for two years, I got pretty baby hungry. I knew that there was no way of having another baby, as I was not married. It was hard. I can't compare it to what you are going through, but I want you to know I know the battle of envy--envying others circumstances and feeling helpless in the wake of negative feelings. I think sometimes negative feelings are the burden Heavenly Father calls us to bear. But if we keep trying to be happy for people, we'll be happier ourselves.

    We'll add our prayers to yours.