My wife and I spent Saturday in Pleasant Prairie, WI watching our niece graduate from high school. It was a good day. She is the last of her generation in our family to graduate but she is first in out hearts on this special day in her life.
It was interesting to watch all the students march in. Some had decorated their caps with the initials of the colleges there were going to be attending in the fall. Others used to moment to make fashion statements with their shoes - the only visible portion of the clothes there were wearing under their graduation gowns. Some ladies wore sandals, others wore 4-inch heels! The guys mostly wore tennis shoes on their feet - each one had different colored shoes laces though. Each student, although they had dressed basically the same, they still wanted to make themselves stand out in the crowd.
There were many speeches given about being the best and about being proud of accomplishments. I was grateful to hear several of the speech givers thanking God and asking His blessings on the students. But most were about pride and being successful and getting ahead in the world. Only thing is, Jesus tells us just the opposite.
"16 So the last will be first, and the first last.” - Matthew 20:16
When the kids walked into the gymnasium at our niece's graduation, the A's walked in first and the Z's were last. The first were first and the last were last. But when they exited after graduation the last went our first but that soon stopped and corrected. "We must exit in an orderly fashion. We simply can't have these students thinking for themselves!" Ha ha!
There are so many things that our school system, and our society in general, have totally wrong. Instead of placing an importance on being first, I believe we should consider being last.
Earlier that day, as our niece was getting ready, my wife asked her about some of the medals she was wearing around her neck. The last one she described caught my attention. It was for community service. "We get this one for doing 100 hours of community service."
See what I mean? The first shall be last and the last shall be first. There is a lot to be said about being last. Jesus likes it when we become last. Re-read Matthew 20:16, Jesus also wants us to be losers. Another counter-cultural concept from our King. But it's true.
"39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." - Matthew 10:39
Confused? Don't be. It's easy. It is good to work hard but we must know WHY we are working hard. Are we working hard to get ahead in life? Or are we working hard to help someone else? Are we working our butts of for monetary gain? Or so we can use the extra money we make to help someone in need?
I guess the real question for these graduates is "Whom will you serve?"
And Last Shall Be First - 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games