“But many who are first will be last, and last first” (Matt. 19:30).
Jesus said this to his close friends who were kinda wondering if He had noticed that their stacks had been shrinking over the past year. He said it just moments after a man walked away sad—unwilling to make the sacrifice these friends had made.
I picture that rich young man still in sight on the path leading away from Jesus as he turned to his disciples and said, “Many who are first will be last, and the last first” (Matt. 19:30). He wanted them to notice the contrast. He wanted them to see that the way things stack up today isn’t permanent. Not for this man who walked away, and not for them, either.

When My Stack is Shrinking

Many are experiencing loss today. Here in Michigan, we’re experiencing some of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. Our family has been part of that statistic, and yet even so, my friends and I have been texting—worried about weight gain because we haven’t been to the gym in over a month. We have stacks of food. Stacks of clothes. Stacks of money in bank accounts. And even though our stacks are shrinking, it makes our “hardship” seem rather trivial compared to the hungry and homeless.
Regardless of how much your stack has shrunk and how much you have left, tomorrow holds many unknowns. Yet, hasn’t that always been the case? This coronavirus is called “novel”, but our pain and loss is not a novel experience; it’s part of the human condition. There has never been a time that the gains we make today will be safe from all threats tomorrow.
Stock markets crash. Relationships break. Diseases spread. Death is imminent. 2020 has offered us many reminders of this, has it not?
But to the extent that our loss has been part of our journey with Jesus, there is so much hope. Gathering treasure for the here-and-now was never our goal anyway. Our eyes were fixed on something better than a city built on shifting sand (Heb. 11:10, 16). Our there-and-then treasure can’t be lost, stolen or destroyed (Matt. 6:20).

Surveying my Losses

Today, I’d invite you to survey your losses, but do so as you sit among the disciples. Go ahead and look over at someone who has gathered up great treasure in this world decides to turn and walk away from Jesus. Now, listen as Jesus uses this as a teachable moment. Notice the love in Jesus’s eyes for this one as she walks away (Mark 10:21). Also notice the sadness on her face (Matthew 19:22) as she turns back to the only security she has ever known.
Now search Jesus’s face as he says to you, “Many who are first will be last, and the last first” (Matt. 19:30).
Here’s the reality. Jesus doesn’t want anyone to walk away sad, but nor does he force anyone to follow him. And those who have chosen to follow him instead of chasing after the world? He wants for us to remember that our true treasure is locked up safe. There is no loss in the kingdom!
Really, what Jesus invites us to is a new perspective. He wants us to have eyes see things the way they really are. He wanted this so badly that he came to show us, himself, by living a life before our very eyes according to the kingdom’s last-will-be-first mindset.
So if you’re experiencing loss today, dear follower, don’t grieve as one who has no hope. Instead of losing heart or trembling at the future, remember the words of our Lord when he said: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

This post is based on the third chapter in my new book, Comparison Girl: Lessons from Jesus on Me-Free Living in a Measure-Up World (releasing May 19).

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