All of this helps us understand an important meaning of the parable of the laborers in the vineyard, which the Savior gave to explain what the kingdom of heaven is like. As you remember, the owner of the vineyard hired laborers at different times of the day. Some he sent into the vineyard early in the morning, others about the third hour, and others in the sixth and ninth hours. Finally, in the eleventh hour he sent others into the vineyard, promising that he would also pay them “whatsoever is right” At the end of the day the owner of the vineyard gave the same wage to every worker, even to those who had come in the eleventh hour. When those who had worked the entire day saw this, “they murmured against the goodman of the house”. The owner did not yield but merely pointed out that he had done no one any wrong, since he had paid each man the agreed amount. Like other parables, this one can teach several different and valuable principles. For present purposes its lesson is that the Master’s reward in the Final Judgment will not be based on how long we have labored in the vineyard. We do not obtain our heavenly reward by punching a time clock. What is essential is that our labors in the workplace of the Lord have caused us to become something. For some of us, this requires a longer time than for others. What is important in the end is what we have become by our labors. Many who come in the eleventh hour have been refined and prepared by the Lord in ways other than formal employment in the vineyard. These workers are like the prepared dry mix to which it is only necessary to “add water”—the perfecting ordinance of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. With that addition—even in the eleventh hour—these workers are in the same state of development and qualified to receive the same reward as those who have labored long in the vineyard. This parable teaches us that we should never give up hope and loving associations with family members and friends whose fine qualities evidence their progress toward what a loving Father would have them become. Similarly, the power of the Atonement and the principle of repentance show that we should never give up on loved ones who now seem to be making many wrong choices. Instead of being judgmental about others, we should be concerned about ourselves. We must not give up hope. We must not stop striving. We are children of God, and it is possible for us to become what our Heavenly Father would have us become.
The parable of the sower is one of a small number of parables reported in all three of the synoptic Gospels. It is also one of an even smaller group of parables Jesus explained to His disciples. The seed that was sown was “the word of the kingdom”, “the word”, or “the word of God” —the teachings of the Master and His servants. The different soils on which the seeds fell represent different ways in which mortals receive and follow these teachings. Thus the seeds that “fell by the way side” have not reached mortal soil where they might possibly grow. They are like teachings that fall upon a heart hardened or unprepared. I will say nothing more of these. My message concerns those of us who have committed to be followers of Christ. What do we do with the Savior’s teachings as we live our lives? The parable of the sower warns us of circumstances and attitudes that can keep anyone who has received the seed of the gospel message from bringing forth a goodly harvest.