The day after Game 7 of the NBA Finals is joy to some and misery to others. Whether they be players or fans, many are striving to win, striving to be first. But at what cost? Have you ever thought about the cost associated with giving your all in order to be first? I’m all for good competition, and I’m all for winning, but not at the peril of one’s soul.
Jesus says in Mark 10:31, “But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” This saying comes on the heels of Jesus’s interaction with the rich, young ruler who refused to let go of that which he loved more than God. The rich, young ruler was sold out to his possessions and was unwilling to let go; therefore, he was not worthy of eternal life. The rich young ruler believed the lie that earthly things will be bring lasting enjoyment and that earthly possessions with truly satisfy. The trouble with worldly things is that these things are not permanent. These worldly accolades, these worldly pleasures, will all one day fade away. Everything on this earth decays and rots, but that which is of true value lasts forever. Championships, money, and earthly possessions will soon be forgotten, but that which is of everlasting value will remain throughout eternity. In the presence of God there is fullness of joy, and at His right hand are pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16:11).
So will we forfeit all for the sake of following Christ? Will we let go of this world and save our lives? Jesus says in Mark 10:29-30, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.”
You see, Jesus is worth it. Only in Him will we find lasting value and lasting pleasure. When we look to the world we only want more. God’s Word tells us “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity” (Ecc. 5:10). And this can be applied to more than money: When we seek the accolades of man, we must remember that these things will pass away; when we seek to be first, we will seek to be first in that which is fading away. But when we seek to be last, deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus Christ, only then will we receive an eternal crown. So, take heart in this life whenever you lose or are trampled upon. “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:35-36)
In conclusion, let me encourage you to look to Christ, who did not seek to be first, who did not sacrifice all in order to win, in order to glorify Himself, but He truly won by laying down His life, sacrificing all for the glory of His Heavenly Father and for the good of His people. “Whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:44).
Jesus Christ is the true role model. Let us look to Him rather than earthly kings who are self-serving and self-exalting.