The parable of the laborers in the vineyard

This parable could have many applications in our lives especially as it relates to our thinking and attitudes pertaining to receiving rewards in the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Parable

“For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the laborers 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 laborers, 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. 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 good man 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. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? (Matthew 20: 1-16 in the Bible)

Our Experience with Worldly Compensation Does Not Relate to Heavenly Rewards

Based on the way hourly workers are paid today, you can imagine that when those who had worked the longest saw what was being given to the part-day workers, they jumped to the conclusion that they would receive not only the promised penny, but also a bonus. After all, they had worked more than anyone else! So when the householder paid them but a penny, they complained, “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” (Matt. 20:12).

Do we think we deserve a greater reward because we were called first or labored longest? The bargaining spirit of those hired first has no place in the gospel. Although while we labor we may not comprehend the full significance of His reward, we can trust that we will receive from the Lord “whatsoever is right.”

Beware of pride

Pride is competitive in nature. And some prideful people are not so concerned about their wages meeting their needs as they are that their wages are more than someone else’s. Their reward is being a cut above the rest.

The antidote for pride is humility, teachableness, meekness, submissiveness, kindness, loving and being more interested in the success of others than ourselves.

Enduring to the End of Our Lives

Another key point of this parable is the importance of endurance or having our faith and righteous living continue until the end of our lives. The Savior said, “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Matthew 24: 13 in the Bible) “Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life.” (3 Nephi 15: 9 in the Book of Mormon)

It does not matter at what age we learn of the gospel of Jesus Christ and begin to exercise faith and start keeping the commandments of God as long as we continue to do so until the end of our lives.

Rewards for Keeping the Commandments and Service in the Lord’s Kingdom

Does my service of many years entitle me to a greater reward in heaven than a new convert who is faithful but who may give only a short period of service before passing? The Lord’s answer is no. To those who qualify for the celestial kingdom the promise of the Father is that all who labor, no matter when each is called into the vineyard, will be “equal in power, and in might, and in dominion” (Doctrine and Covenants 76: 95) The Lord is a generous paymaster. He will surely pay “whatsoever is right” and probably more than we deserve.

Dallas Jones is the local leader for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some of the article came from the article of Henry F. Acebedo, Ensign September 2003. Any questions on this parable call (231) 383-8359 or send an email [email protected]