The Savior gave many parables in his day to help those he taught understand certain principles of the gospel. We should still reference back on them and learn from them frequently. I believe they are written for us in our day too.
One of the parables that sticks out to me is the parable of the laborers in the vineyard recorded in Matthew 20:1-16. In this parable the householder hires a group of laborers to labor in his vineyard. As the day goes on he hires more and more. Once the day is over he pays all of them equally. The laborers who labored the whole day become envious of the others, saying they worked longer so they deserve more pay.
In the book Of Pigs, Pearls, and Prodigals, John Bytheway addresses every parable given by the Savior. He reviews it, gives commentary, and then he addresses how we can apply it in our lives. He really helped me understand the meaning of this parable. He says what Christ is trying to teach us is that we should not be envious like the laborers were. We should rejoice when our brethren are rewarded, regardless of our different circumstances.
He then tells a story that relates to our day to help us understand it more clearly. "I've met a few young people who have worked in the vineyard all day (were born in the Church) who have felt a tinge of envy toward those who joined the Church later in life because those friends were able to sample a lot of the world's sinful pleasures." OR my thoughts were that some might be jealous because they will be praised with just as much glory (compare to the parable of the prodigal son). Bytheway continues, "The first group needs to be reminded that 'wickedness never was happiness,' and that while they were laboring in the 'heat of the day,' they were also enjoying the gift of the Holy Ghost and the joy and peace of being in covenant with Jesus Christ." He then ends so beautifully, "So while the spiritually immature may speak of what they 'missed out on' by being in the Church all their lives, others often speak of all the goodness and spirit and understanding that they 'missed out on' during all those years without the gospel."
How true is this? We should not focus on what we have missed out on (whatever that may be) or be jealous when others come join the church later in their lives, but just rejoice when others come. Bytheway then ends the chapter saying, "So, although you might say we were hired as laborers in the vineyard at different times, we could rejoice together."
I have really loved this explanation because I remember being younger and not understanding this principle. I remember getting stuck on it and then never addressing it or understanding it. Moments like these make me even more grateful for the current calling I have as a miamaid adviser. I am able to record little lessons, like this one, that I didn't understand when I was younger and teach them to the 14-15 year old girls at church. This way they can learn from my ignorance and 'spiritual immaturity'.
"In Jesus' parable, the focus is not how long or how well they worked, but the focus is that they come and participate." - Camille Fronk Olson