Friday, February 10, 2012

First or Last?

The world today is obsessed with being first, and if you’re not Number One, the world says you need to try harder. They say winning isn’t everything; it is the only thing. The need for domination in every aspect of life is so extreme, and the perceived consequences of not being first are so great, that some schools have even done away with announcing a valedictorian, for fear of wounding the self-esteem of the remaining students who were unable to achieve this honor.

But the Bible teaches a totally different perspective. Our need to be first at any cost is based on a misplaced pride in our own strength, talents, and accomplishments (Isaiah 2:10-12; Luke 18:9-14). Yet our own righteousness and good works are no better than filthy rags because they are marred by sin (Isaiah 64:6). In God’s eyes, our only merit is based on the righteousness of His Son, and the completed work He did on the cross to pay the debt for all our sins, past, present and future (Romans 3:22; 4:5; 5:17-18; 6:18).

God, and God alone, places us first when we deserve to be last. We are wretched sinners, and before we trust in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ as the only way to Heaven (1 Corinthians 15; John 14:6), we are doomed to spend eternity in hell. After we trust Christ as our Lord and Savior, we become children of God, joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:14-17), and even His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) designated to spread His Good News on earth and to rule and reign with Him in Heaven (Matthew 25:21). We can do nothing without Him (John 15:5), but with Him, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

When we are saved, one of the many burdens God takes from us and exchanges with His blessings is our pride, which He exchanges for His humility and servant’s heart (Philippians 2:5-7; Mark 10:45). The more we humble ourselves to serve others in this life, the greater will be our reward in Heaven (Matthew 23: 10-12; Luke 14: 7-11).

All believers in Jesus Christ as Lord will enter into the kingdom of Heaven and spend eternity with Him, regardless of whether we were saved moments before death, like the thief on the cross who had no time to do good works for Him or even to be baptized (Luke 23:40-43), or whether we were born into a Christian home, were saved as a child, and consecrated our life to Him, like Timothy (2 Timothy 1:1-5). As Jesus explained in the parable of the workers, each got the same wages regardless of whether he joined the workforce first or last, early in the day or late (Matthew 20: 1-16).

Once we become a child of God, we no longer have to worry about our ranking or status because we will always be first in His eyes. How can each of us be first? Because He loves us each of us infinitely, so no comparisons are possible. He loved each of us so much that He gave His only Son to die for “whosoever” – any one of us who trusts Him -- to give us eternal life (John 3:16).

As I have heard Andy Stanley preach, “God can’t possibly love you any more than He already does, and He can’t possibly love you any less.” Although the believer will be motivated by that love to do good works for Him, we don’t have to do good works to earn more of His love because He already loves us infinitely (Ephesians 2:8-9). No matter how dark our past has been, and no matter how many times we fall short of His commandments, we can’t lose any of His love because that love is infinite (Romans 8:38-39).

Praise God that He is the First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End (Revelation 22:13). Our existence is justified only through and by Him (Acts 17:28). If we put our own pride last and surrender completely to His will, He will exalt us beyond measure (Luke 18:9-14; 1 Peter 5:5-6), and in glory we will be like Him (Romans 8:18,30).




29 comments:

  1. Hi Laurie - I love how the Lord's ways are so opposite the world's ways. I too am grateful that He is the alpha and omega. Great post, God bless
    Tracy

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  2. In fact, the idea of setting ourselves above others is a practice God says he hates. Christians ought not be competing against one another but working together as a team.

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  3. Dear Frank and Denise,
    Thanks so much for your comments and kind words!
    May you have a blessed Lord's Day and week in Him.
    Laurie

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  4. Dear Tracy,
    Great point -- what the world advises can turn us from God's best.
    Thanks so much for your comment, and God bless!
    Laurie

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  5. Dear dfish,
    So true -- it is sad when churches are divided by strife and rivalry among the members. We are all members of one body, and God has placed each of us there to fulfill a different purpose.
    Laurie

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  6. It gives me joy to know God doesn't give us a ranking or status but loves each of us equally, blessing and leading us in the greatest way possible for each of us as individuals.

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  7. Dear Pamela,
    It is awesome to think that He made each of us to be unique, and that He loves and leads each of us uniquely, but with the same infinite love.
    Blessings,
    Laurie

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  8. What a blessing we have in our God! He loves us yesterday, today and forever! I am so thankful...

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  9. Amen, Joan! He loves us so much that He gave His only Son for us, and His love is forever faithful, true, and unchanging.
    God bless you,
    Laurie

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  10. Praising Him for these beautiful truths! God has an upside down economy, and for this I am very grateful.

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  11. Thanks for your comment, Laura! He who loses his life will save it -- what an awesome blessing that as we die to self, we live eternally with Him.
    Love to you,
    Laurie

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  12. This is so true. The people God is pleased with are not the proud and haughty, but the meek and humble. This is not the way of the world.
    Thank you for sharing on Spiritual Sundays.
    Blessings,
    Charlotte

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  13. Thanks, Charlotte! To those who are unsaved, preaching really does sound like foolishness, but Praise God that His wisdom is infinite and true.
    Blessings to you,
    Laurie

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  14. First or last -- either way, God is there. Whether we cross first, middle, or end, He is there and we can serve Him on earth or on heaven -- it's not about fairness but about love.

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  15. Very true, Jen -- His love embraces His children even (and especially) when the world says we don't measure up.
    God bless,
    Laurie

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  16. What an excellent study... Very thorough and so full of hope. Thank you and have a fabulous weekend :)

    http://theemptynestexpress.com

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  17. Thanks for your kind words and encouragement, Ms. Kathleen! May you have a blessed weekend too!
    Laurie

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  18. Another encouraging post, Laurie. I'm thankful for God's love and His unconditional grace.

    Blessings,
    Joan

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  19. Amen, Joan, and thanks for your encouragement!
    Have a blessed weekend!
    Laurie

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  20. Hey! I finally got to follow, I have tried who knows how many times and it always kicks me out. But today there is victory. yay!

    I think I sent you an email about guest posting but I can't find it now... anyway, it would be awesome if you shared something about your expertise in neurology and how something about it points to God's heart and character. Or something along those lines.

    (Doesn't let me point to my site, so www.BeholdingGlory.com )

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  21. You are right, Laurie. It is by His grace we are saved. We only do good works because of His love for us.

    Thank you for sharing your grateful heart with us this week.

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  22. Thanks so much, Laura! I'll look forward to writing a guest post in the near future. May you have a blessed week!
    Laurie

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  23. Amen, eph2810! Thanks so much for your comment.
    God bless,
    Laurie

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  24. Amen girl! Love this post and I'm sharing ;-)

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  25. Thanks so much, Debra! I'm following you too!

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