I haven’t won many awards. I’m not especially gifted at anything that might earn me an award or a trophy. I coached a middle school team a few years back, and we won some tournaments. That was great, but no “coach of the year” trophy came with it—and that’s fine with me.
Winning can be a thrill, though. It’s a pretty big thing for most people—and many of us are so competitive that we feel we just have to win. That’s why today’s verse is so countercultural. The first will be last, and the last first? That doesn’t make sense. No one competes for the goal of being last. No one remembers the ones who come in last. But maybe that’s the point.
The economy of the gospel isn’t like everything else. Good looks and megatalent don’t earn anything. In fact, very little that we value in this world—from wealth and prestige to power and position—means anything when it comes to following Jesus. At times, our stuff and accomplishments can even get in the way of following Jesus.
Think of it this way: when we realize that the things we often rely on don’t actually gain us anything, we find ourselves in a place where we are ready to rely on Jesus. We realize that everything good we have and all we have accomplished is a gift from God. And we are ready to share it with others, rather than holding on to it for ourselves. With love and generosity and making room for people, putting others ahead of ourselves, we begin to follow and act like Jesus.