Sunday, November 3, 2002

Matthew 20:9-12

"And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.
And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,
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."
Matthew 20:9-12

This is an interesting scripture, I think because we can relate to it from both sides.  We can understand the resentment of the people who worked for the entire day and who got paid exactly the same as the people who had only worked an hour.  It seems unfair somehow, even though they got the salary they had agreed on.  And we can relate to the people who only worked for an hour.  they didn't agree to any salary, they just went to work knowing that the man who hired them would be fair... but they still need to live, just the same as the people who were hired earlier. ... this is part of the parable of the laborers in the vineyard and to me, it seems to show how much we don't want to be equal. :)  We get upset if Joe gets hired at the company after we've already worked there 10 years, and he gets promoted before us.  We've got a lot of selfishness going on, and we find it difficult to be happy for others.  ... The thing that I wonder though, is whether *any* of us are the ones who worked in the field all day.  ... I'm inclined to think of myself in the other category, of those who have worked only part of the day.  If salvation is the penny here, do I really deserve salvation compared to say, Enoch? King Benjamin? The Three Nephites? ... any prophet at all?  ... I could dive into more detail, but it just gets more depressing.  From my perspective, if I get that penny for my work during my short time on earth, I'll be lucky. ... and perhaps one of the things that makes those prophets the incredible men that they are is that they go in knowing that they are going to be working the whole day in order to help some of us who sign on at the last minute... and they are happy for us, and want us to have what they have.  God hasn't set up a system like we have in the world, which is hierarchical and sets one person above another for whatever random reasons work at the moment.  We don't achieve heaven by being stronger or faster than the next person.  We don't even achieve heaven by being more spiritual than the next person, actually.  We are all worthy of heaven because we are children of God, and our divinity is inborn... none of us are more or less divine.  The question has never been how hard we will work or how long we will work... the question is only, will we work?  And whenever we decide to do that, whether it is the beginning or the ending of the day... no matter how long "enduring to the end" is for each of us personally... we achieve our reward not by beating out someone else, but just by being there, doing what we should do.  God doesn't grade on a curve, and our salvation isn't cheapened by the number of people who are saved.  It isn't about who can get more spirituality, knowledge, tithing receipts... children... whatever.  God isn't grading us on some point scale where we lose points for everything we do bad, and gain points for stuff we do good.  The thing that matters is who we are.  How have our earthly experiences shaped us... what have we chosen?  In the end, we're not going to be looking at some scorecard, we're only going to be looking at ourselves.  What have we done with what we were given, and who have we become?  Have we become better?  Have we helped each other?  Have we managed to get to work in the vineyard?  If so, we'll gain our salvation.  And that is all that matters... not who else got what, or what time we started. :)

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