“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:16)
Jesus ends the parable of the workers with a promise that turns everything upside down because it’s countercultural and counterintuitive.
Externally, our culture pulls us to think “me first!” We only need to look as far as our family, friends, media for examples of entitlement. and indulgence.
We also live with internal pressure that pushes us to be self-centered. The default setting of our souls is to put our needs before others.
Selfishness is like a train with two engines. One is in the front pulling, pulling, pulling. The second is in the back pushing, pushing, pushing. Both are working together with reckless abandon.
Consider your own experience: how often do you think of helping others…with zero strings attached? Be honest with yourself! Probably not very often.
You aren’t alone. More importantly, there’s a cure.
Jesus ends the parable with the promise, but if you want to know the problem, you have to look a little deeper and read carefully. The way to combat our selfishness is found in Matthew 20:10. “So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more.”
The unhappy workers looked at others with envy, which quickly turned to entitlement. Their expectations became inflated and the owner refused to indulge their selfishness, and they became disappointed.
Disappointment springs from distorted expectations.
The good thing behind this train wreck is that we are given the opportunity to change. To trust God more than we trust our comparisons with others. It’s not easy, but the cure for selfishness is to focus on God rather than others.
Don’t get caught up in the comparison game. Maybe it’s time for you to take a break from the infinite scroll of your social media feeds and the endless (and empty) chat threads.
Spend time with God, talk to him, read his word, and consider what he’s doing in your life. As you become more like Jesus, you re-write your story and replace your natural drive with God’s faithfulness.