Monday, April 2, 2012

Why should you be jealous because I choose to be kind?

The 182nd Semi-Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was held this past weekend.  For anyone not familiar with this event, it is an opportunity for members to gather and hear counsel from leaders for the next 6 months.  Many of our Sunday lessons in the coming weeks will be drawn from their talks as we seek to bring gospel principles more fully and consciously into our lives.  As often happens, there was one specific talk, of the many presented, that captured my attention, engaged my mind, and fed my spirit.  And that's what I want to tell you about today.

On Saturday afternoon, after the business of the Church had been conducted, Jeffrey R. Holland was the opening speaker.  He drew from the parable of the householder who went out early in the morning to hire workers and then returned a few hours later to hire more, and later still more to meet the urgency of need in completing the harvest.  At the end of the day, all of the workers received the same wage.  You'll find the scripture recorded in Matthew chapter 20 and a summary of his talk here or you can watch it in its entirety here.

He spent a few moments explaining that no unfairness occurred... that the first workers chosen were the most fortunate that day.  They agreed to a wage for the work they were to perform and that gave them the ability to meet the needs of their family.  And that as more workers were chosen each time the householder returned, how discouraging it must have been for those who waited still until at last they were chosen, not knowing the wage they'd receive but that anything was better than nothing.  How surprised they must have been at their good fortune and the householder's kindness at the end of the day!  The parable also tells that the reaction of the first chosen was anger and of the householder's response to their questions and criticism.

Elder Holland continued with 3 points to consider as lessons for us from this parable.  First he acknowledged that good and bad happens to everyone.  Consider that the householder is God and that the day's wage is the eternal salvation He has offered to each of us... and then imagine that He is asking us "Why should you be jealous because I choose to be kind?"  Is His kindness to those of us who've known His love for all our life any less than to someone who finds and embraces the gospel in old age?   Continuing on, he pointed out that while misfortune causes us to suffer for a bit, envy (the emotion of the workers hired first in the parable) requires that we suffer for the good fortune that befalls everyone around us.  It's like celebrating the good things that happen to friends, family and other associates with a big swig of pickle juice.

Isn't that an interesting way to view this parable?  Over the past couple of days I've pondered the thought of what would happen if this is the final test at the gates of Heaven.  Can we be happy for someone else's good fortune or are we all puckered up from the vinegar in that pickle juice?

His second point was that the formula of faith is to work on and let the distress fall away in the abundance of the reward.  In other words, to keep focused on our own eternal reward and not worry so much about the reward those around us are working toward.  And his third point was that this parable is a story about God's goodness, generosity, compassion and grace.  I agree with his statement that one of the things Heavenly Father must enjoy most about being God is the thrill of extending mercy to those who don't expect or deserve it.  There is no problem that can't be overcome.  It's not possible to sink lower than the light offered by the Atonement of Jesus Christ can reach and illuminate our life.

I've found myself thinking through this talk a lot and examining my actions from that perspective.  That's good introspection from time to time...

1 comment:

Carole said...

Nice post. You might like this Wordsworth quote about little acts of kindness. Carole's Chatter blogspot Acts of Kindness