Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Last Will Be First

Chuckle: A new rural resident called the local authorities requesting the removal of the "Deer Crossing" sign on their road. Their reason was that many deer were being hit by cars and they no longer wanted them to cross there.
Quote: "Greatness is not found in possessions, power, position, or prestige. It is discovered in goodness, humility, service and character." --William Arthur Ward

Jesus said, "But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first" (Matthew 19:30 NIV).
You may remember the inspiring story of Derek Redmond, the sprinter who finished last in the 400 meter finals during the 1992 summer Olympics. He pulled a hamstring and only made it across the finish line with the help of his father who came out of the crowd to assist him. Derek garnered more attention and acclaim than the actual winner because of his courage and determination to finish the race and never quit. Even today, as we think about the scene, the runner who finished last is the first one we remember.
Jesus taught His disciples by saying, ". . . whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave -- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:26-28 NIV).
You may feel as if you are always bringing up the rear -- last place, in the game of life. But it is a reality that most of us Christians will never receive the notoriety of a Billy Graham, Lottie Moon, or other well-known Christian faithful. We may never receive first place recognition in this life; however, it is not the world we seek to please, but the One who loves us and gave Himself for us. When it comes to being first or great, Jesus completely dismantled the world's values and turned them upside down, as reflected in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5. It is not our stature that will be rewarded but our enduring faithfulness -- even for the small things we do for God's glory.
As we see in the above passage, our greatness and being first is dependent upon our humbling ourselves and being lowly servants to others. Jesus set the example for us as He came to serve and give His life for you and me. In this world, not many powerful and acclaimed people got to where they are by being humble, kind, and understanding. But in the heavenly world to come, the last will be first. We should not be working for human approval, but be faithful to the One whose approval really matters.
I started with a story about an Olympic 400 meter race. Listen to Paul's words to young Timothy as he thought about his eminent death. "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day . . ." (1 Timothy 4:7-8 NIV). Paul was not interested in being first in the eyes of the world, but in the eyes of his Lord. Paul was not alone as he finished his race. Like Derek Redmond, his Father was there to help him.
Love, Jerry & Dotse


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