“But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
A simple countercultural verse. Counterintuitive verse. Goes against the way we are wired in our flesh to think. We are wired to think, and we live in a world that promotes this kind of thinking. Be first. Get ahead. Work to get ahead. Promote yourself. Do whatever it takes to be out front. Yet Jesus turns that totally on its head and says many who are first will be last and the last first. He’s just finished a conversation with a rich young man who had everything this world has to offer. Riches and all that goes with that.
Don’t buy into the ways of this world. Lay down the pursuits of this world and live as servants of the King, longing for the glory of Christ.
Jesus makes clear that there is coming a major reversal. This man who was unwilling to let go of his possessions to follow Jesus would one day realize that he had missed the entire point. He had lived for what did not matter. He had lived to be first in this world and he would be last in eternity. We see this all over the Bible, that the way this world works will one day be turned on its head and so we find exhortations all throughout scripture, don’t be deceived. Don’t buy into the ways of this world. Live differently. Lay down your possessions. Lay down your life. Lay down your pride. Lay down the pursuits of this world and live differently. Live with humility. Give away possessions. Don’t live for your advancement. Live for the glory of God. Don’t live to promote yourself. Live to promote Jesus.
We are surrounded every single day by all kinds of messages. People spending billions of dollars to get us to buy into the idea that if we just have more, have nicer, have better, get bigger, get better in this way or that way, then that is success. Don’t believe it. Jesus says, “It’s all going to be turned on its head.”
So God, we need your help today. I pray, I pray for my own life, I pray for every single one … Those who are listening right now, God, please help us to live counterculturally, counterintuitively, according to this truth that you have just said to us in your word. Many who are first will be last and the last first. God, make us servants today. Help us to live for your glory today. Please remove all of our pride. All of our desire for self-promotion, self-advancement. God, we pray for your promotion, for the advancement of the gospel. God, help us to live for that today. We know, we know, we know that’s what matters most in eternity. Help us to live for that today, we pray.
Change the way we think. Help us not to live for the money of this world. Help us to live for treasure in heaven. God, change the way we prioritize our lives and our schedules. Change our definition of success we pray. Help us not to live for that which is just going to burn up in the end. It’s going to be gone. It’s not going to matter. God, help us to live for what matters forever. Help us to trust your ways over the ways of this world. Help us not to be deceived. Free as we pray, from the love of this world, the love of possessions, the love of the pleasures and pursuits that this world says will satisfy. Jesus, you satisfy. We’ve seen that all throughout, reading through the gospels. You satisfy, you satisfy, you are a spring of water welling up to eternal life, you are the bread of life. You are the one our souls need. You are the one who can satisfy our deepest longings.
Help us to live in absolute surrender to you for what you say is most important. Not for what this world says is most important. Help us. Help us to live differently, to think differently, to desire differently according to your word, not according to the ways of this world. We need your help. In every way today, in my life, in the lives of those who are listening. Help us to believe that many who are first will be last and the last first and to live accordingly. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
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