First and Great

The last shall be first - be humble to be made great. These ideas seem a little like they might be an 'oxymoron', don't they? How can the one who is last possibly be first? How could being humble mean we will ever know greatness? I guess the way we define 'first' and 'great' are what may be of concern here, my friends. The words 'last' and 'first' frequently carry the connotation of being the one at the head of the line, in first place, or even getting it done ahead of anyone else. Have you ever been 'last' to finish something? I know I have and others rubbed it in because I was so far behind them in getting it done! It made me want to always be done 'first' because I didn't like being 'last'. If I were to be honest here, my 'ego' took a hit by being singled out as 'last'. I think others struggle with similar issues, so maybe it is time to look at the value of being 'last'.

Be humble before the Lord, and he will make you great. James 4:10 ERV

'Last' doesn't mean we are 'dumb', 'dense', or 'deviant'. In fact, it may be more like we are 'determined', 'deliberate', and 'dedicated'. God doesn't reward us so much for getting across the finish line first, as much as he rewards us for having finished well. To finish well one may take a little longer than others. It isn't for lack of trying to be there with the rest of the group, but rather what was learned in the time between starting and ending that makes our 'finishing' the reward! There are times when I have started something and finished it quickly - but on those occasions where I took my time to really put in some effort, the thing produced was much different!

Some think of humility as the 'abasement' or 'putting down' of one's self. It is not 'putting self down' to the point the individual or their efforts are seen as insignificant, though. Humility is really the ability to see one's self in a very realistic way - a sinner in need of continual grace! In fact, a humble man's significance is so great God sees to it that we are continually renewed in grace! The humble man or woman is one who recognizes their need and isn't going to cover it up. In truth, the humble are those who don't try to live independent of God's grace. They are fully aware of their need and live in such a way their need is constantly being placed into the hands of Jesus so he can help get them through to the finish line. This is indeed 'greatness' - to be the object of God's grace. To be great, one needs to acknowledge their need of grace - to lay down the self-effort of trying to 'get right' by doing life without God. Just sayin!

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