Sunday, June 17, 2012

On Kindness and Envy

(Parable of the workers in the vineyard, 11th Century Byzantine)

 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.
 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.
 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?
 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.
 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.
 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.
 11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,
 12 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.
 13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?
 14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.
 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? (Matthew 20:1-15)
After sharing the above scriptures, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland offered the following commentary:

"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 I choose to be kind?"
Brothers and sisters, there are going to be times in our lives when someone else gets an unexpected blessing or receives some special recognition. May I plead with us not to be hurt—and certainly not to feel envious—when good fortune comes to another person? We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. We are not in a race against each other to see who is the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed. The race we are really in is the race against sin, and surely envy is one of the most universal of those."
Read Elder Holland's full talk, The Laborers in the Vineyard