Finishing Last

By: Kristen L. McNulty

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From the minute we are born, we're launched into a race in which we're expected to finish first. Our parent's brag about when our first word was uttered and tell stories of how we walked earlier than any other kid on the block. Our teachers train us to reach for the top and get the highest test score, run the race faster than everyone else, and be on top.

This trend continues right into adulthood when everyone races to buy the bigger house, drive the best car, work their way to the top of the company, and ultimately come out a head of everyone else.

Yet even though this way of thinking is so ingrained into our world, Jesus tells us something different. He tells us that the last will be first, and the first will actually be last. Now living in the culture that we do, this doesn't make a lot of sense, but it doesn't make it any less true.

In the book of Matthew, it's recorded that Peter goes up to Jesus and says "we have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?" (19:27) Here Peter's like most of us in our race to the finish. He want's to know what's in it for him. He gave up everything and now wants something to show for it.

Jesus' answer to him was revolutionarily then and it still is today. He said: "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first."

Basically what Jesus is getting at here is that if we want to follow Him, we have to abandon the worldly race to the top and instead follow wherever He leads us. And while we may or may not enjoy earthly applause here, in heaven our efforts will be recognized for eternity.

You see in Jesus' kingdom, coming in at number one here on this earth has little significance and that is why he said that many of those who are in first here will be last then and many who are last now then will be first. That doesn't mean that those in first place now are doomed for destruction. I think what Jesus is getting at here is that if we're so consumed with the worldly race, our focus isn't on the kingdom of God and so while we may be a top CEO here with a BMW in the driveway of our large estate, that's not going to mean a thing when we get to heaven.

No when we get to heaven, God isn't going to reward us based on what we accumulated, but rather based on what we gave away. And those rewards will be beyond what any of us could even imagine!

So today why don't you take the time to re-evaluate the direction that you're taking in life. I'm not saying don't try your best at your job or in school or whatever, what I am saying is that above all, follow where God leads and recognize that your significance is not about being number one here. It's about being number one when you get there.

I don't know about you, but I want to finish last.

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This devotional was aired as a part of the Making A Difference Christian Radio Show.