Dear Elders and Sisters,
As I read your emails from last week, I really enjoyed all your thoughts and insights regarding the Parable of the Laborers from Matthew chapter 20 as well as Elder Holland’s conference talk. This parable seems unfair or difficult to accept when we read it from a standpoint of pride and self-sufficiency. If we humble ourselves and consider that all that we have, and even more so all that we are, is a gift from a loving Heavenly Father, then we feel immense gratitude and are less inclined to feel entitled to praise, reward or position. When I think of all that I have learned and gained as a result of serving the Lord, how can I in good conscience even think about what I “deserve” in return?
I selected a few emails to share with you:
“As I read the talk this week I had thoughts applicable to both me and investigators… As I read it made me think back to the MTC, just a few weeks into my mission. I was in a district of Elders and Sisters who had been in the church since they were little and there were times when they were talking about something and I just had no idea what they were talking about. I felt like those people picked at the last hour. I was almost ashamed of myself for not being in the church sooner and I was sure that I would not be a very good or effective missionary. However now that I've been here for some time I KNOW that that wasn't true even in the least. The Lord blesses us according to our work and our heart. He makes up for the weaknesses and shortcomings we might have. I may not have had the most in depth understanding of everything but through hard work and diligent study I have grown my testimony and realized that a successful missionary isn't someone who just knows how to do everything perfectly, we never will be to that point. All missionaries have to "learn on the job", and the successful ones realize their potential is as large as their desire, faith, and diligence.”
“I liked the second point Elder Holland taught about not wasting the final reward because of something that happened earlier in the day. Every time I hear a story a missionary being disobedient I think my faith is hurt a little bit, and sometimes I remember times during the day when I was not truly diligent, when I rode past a person who needed the gospel, or when my personal selfishness hurt the strength of the companionship. But I must remember that in the Lord's vineyard, all that is required is that we change, turn back to Jesus, and then continue to hold out diligent to the end. It is through the grace of Christ that our weakness can be made strength after all.”
“The biggest thing I pondered while reading the parable of the laborers in the vineyard was the blessing that labor is. When we are performing the work of the Lord, we are able to receive the assurance that we are doing something of value, which is actually much better than being idle (where life lacks any apparent purpose or clear direction).”
A couple of nights ago, I had the opportunity to visit with a recent convert who has struggled with the “fairness” of the Atonement. He couldn’t understand how or why someone else, as in the Savior, should have to suffer for our personal sins. Furthermore, he found it very difficult to accept the idea that we could simply accept Christ as our Savior and then go happily on in life, even though others may have been harmed, and are still suffering, as a result of our actions. I was grateful to have an opportunity to increase his understanding of both repentance and the Atonement. The repentance process is available to all individuals, young or old, naive or seasoned; the Atonement is our source of hope and relief from the burden of all sins, small transgressions as well as serious sins for which it may be impossible for us to make restitution. These two great principles fit together beautifully with the Parable of the Laborers. The hope of exaltation and eternal life is made available to all through the atoning sacrifice freely given by Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the World. It is our privilege to apply these principles in our own lives and to share them with others.
I thank my Heavenly Father every day for the privilege that I have of being here in Taiwan, with each one of you, engaged in His sacred work. There is nothing that I would rather be doing at this time in my life. Thank you for the opportunity and blessing that is mine to labor among such faithful and dedicated servants, to learn from you and with you, and to be inspired daily by your consecrated service.
Mentor of Champions