By Elder John Guy
This morning we read from Matthew, chapter 20, verses 1 through 16, in which we learned about generosity, and whether or not we all suffer from the human frailty of jealousy and a lack of appreciation of our blessings. When I first began working at the Maricopa County Sherriff’s office ten years ago, I was one of a bunch of new-hires, who had been selected after the sherriff’s office decided to upgrade their staff. We were all college educated with specific majors that would relate to our jobs at the sheriff’s office, and when we were hired we were paid commensurate with our education and training. Unfortunately, the veterans who worked in this office and had been there five to ten years, did not have college degrees as a whole, and when we were hired we were paid the same amount of money as those employees who had worked five or more years. Needless to say, we were shunned for about the first three months until the county caught up with the pay inequities and adjusted their pay, so that again, they were making more than—or at least—the same as we were. Now, it was not our fault that we had more education but in the end, we suffered because we were being paid the same as they were—and they had been there much longer than we had.
This is exactly like the parable in Matthew and it illustrates that although we can be generous, we also are always looking at our neighbor’s new car or house and wondering why we were not blessed at the same level.
I drive down Grand Avenue in my car with my air-conditioning on and it is a car that is fully paid for and extremely efficient. I will pass a person, usually one of color, wearing raggedy clothes, pushing a shopping cart and carrying all of their earthly possessions on them. And every time I see a person like that I wonder how I would feel had I been born into that station. Because, in reality, I was born into a family who loved me and proviced me the very best in education and career opportunities, and so I was able to sit in a nice car with the air-conditioning running while that poor, unfortunate soul was pushing a shopping cart across Grand Avenue. It made me think how blessed I am with thematerial things that have been provided to me by God, and the lack of those very same things that were provided to the man pushing a shopping cart. Although I am blessed, how often do I then take those blessings and pass them along to someone less fortunate? As Matthew says in the text, “So those who are last will be first. And those who are first will be last.” And the meaning is that although you may have many of God’s blessings, it does not necessarily put you at the front of the line when it comes time to pass between the Pearly Gates. Always remember the man on the cross next to Jesus—the common thief—who was received into heaven as quickly as someone who would have been faithful for years. Because in the end, God does not separate those who come to him at the very last, from those who have come to him from birth. Be generous without fault and keep those who do not have the abundant blessings that you have in your prayers and your deeds.