To teach and demonstrate God's capacity for mercy and forgiveness, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve began his Saturday afternoon conference address by recounting the Savior's parable of the labourers.
Found in Matthew 20:1-15, the parable tells of a householder who employed groups of workers at various times throughout the day to meet the evolving urgency of the harvest. At the end of the work day, all the workers gathered to receive their day's wages. Surprisingly, all received the same wage in spite of their different hours of labor. Those who had been hired first in the early morning were angry because those who had labored but an hour received an equal share.
Some who read the parable, said Elder Holland, may agree with the first wave of workers that an injustice had occurred. "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 received it."
The first wave also would have been grateful for the day-long work knowing it would help feed their families. Meanwhile, the final wave of workers would have painfully passed the day watching others being chosen to work.
And, as the householder explained, he was free to do what he liked with his own money. Why should any be jealous because he chose to be kind?
"Brothers and sisters, there are going to be times in our lives when someone else gets an unexpected blessings or receives some special recognition," he said. "May I plead with us not to be hurt — and certainly not to feel envious — when good fortune comes to another. 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."
The parable also teaches of the sorrowful mistake some could make if they were to forego the receipt of their wages at the end of the day because they were preoccupied with perceived problems earlier in the day.
"The formula of faith is to hold on, work on, see it through and let the distress of the earlier hours — real or imagined — fall away in the abundance of the final reward," said Elder Holland. "Don't dwell on old issues or grievances — not toward yourself nor your neighbor nor even, I might add, toward this true and living Church."
Ultimately, the parable of the labourers is about God's goodness, His patience and forgiveness and the Atonement of Christ.
"However late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made, or talents you think you don't have, or distance from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love."