...But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”
Matthew 20:1-16 ESV
This parable is the Jesus' answer Peter's question a few verses before this. In 19:27 Peter asks, "See we have left everything and followed you. What then will there be for us?". At this point, the disciples have left everything behind. They quit their jobs, left their homes, and moved on from everything they were familiar with to follow Jesus, and they were curious. They wanted to know whats the point. They want to know whats in it for them. What will all of this sacrifice do for us? They want to know what they can expect. Jesus answers this question with the parable. The parable talks about workers, some who work all day, some who work for 3/4 of the day, some for 1/2, and some who work for only 1/4 of the day. Yet, they all get paid the same amount. And even further, those who worked least were paid first. Talk about a reversal of expectations.
How many times in life have you expected something to go a certain way and it didn't happen how you wanted it to? How many times have you seen something happen for someone else, and not yourself and been disappointed, discouraged, or angry? Have you ever been like the workers who had been in the field all day, who just didn't understand why what was happening was actually happening? They had expectations of what they would receive, and what it would look like for them to get what they thought they deserved. Jesus uses this parable to give us an idea of how we should handle expectations, and more specifically, what to do when our expectations aren't our reality. Is it okay to have expectations of God in your life? Yes. Jesus reminds us through this parable, that what happens in our lives isn't always going to make sense, but he doesn't just leave us there. He encourages us to not compare what our live's look like to what others lives' look like. Comparison never leads to fulfillment. It either leads you to being prideful because you have what someone else doesn't, or leads you despair because you lack what others do not. Jesus also reminds us to be grateful. To realize that the gift of the Holy Spirit inside of us is more than enough to satisfy you.
a practical step
Think about expectations that you have right now. It could be about a grade, a relationship, your future, or what God is going to do in you. Now take a moment to surrender those expectations to God as best as you know how. Invite him into those dreams you have and what you want to see him do. Now think of expectations you had in the past, or even expectations you have right now that are letting you down. In those moments you have the choice to let your circumstances define who God is, or trust what Jesus said is the verses we just talked about. Remember what Jesus did for you on the cross to give you eternal life with Him (19:29), don't let comparison sneak in (20:12), and don't let gratefulness leave your heart (20:15).
To end, you can pray this prayer.
"Father, I ask that you come and give me healthy expectations. I invite you into every expectation that I have. Remind me of the price you paid for me on the cross, fill me with a grateful heart, and take out any root of comparison that may be in me. I love you. Amen."