When I was a little girl, I used to read scripture verse cards that my mother kept on her bed's headboard bookshelf. One verse that always perplexed me was Matthew 20:16. How was it possible for the first to be last and the last to be first? Did it mean that if I actually got to stand at the front of the lunch line I wouldn't really get to eat my lunch first? Or, did it mean that if I stood at the back of the line I was inferior for some reason? Why did standing at the back of the line make me feel so sad?
When I read chapter 13 (I have read it many times) I once again fell into the trap of believing it was only about viewing an elapsed time frame of earth events. I took my son’s advice once again and chose to dig deeper. I found one truth of what it all meant in the very last verse, a verse that complements Matthew’s teachings. (See vs. 42)
While on our journey here on earth I have basically two paths to choose from. I can choose to seek the praise and pride of the world (the front of the line) finding a momentary sense of power, and praise, or I can choose to follow God’s plan (the back of the line) a place that does not bring earthly praise but does promise to give me a plan whereby I can learn of his power, blessings, and love.
As I read, I kept a keen eye to the idea that I can either cultivate pride through the praise of men, or I can cultivate promise through the plan of God.
Vs. 42 then he shall manifest himself …and the last shall be first, and the first shall be last. -
I believe that God’s plan helps all of us find place. We can be at the front of the line gloating in our position, or helping others. It depends on our understanding of God’s promise. We can be at the back of the line too proud to accept the blessings of his powerful love, or humble enough to learn from the words of his promise.
The world has always taught that fame is a flash in the pan. It exists to satisfy the selfish pride of the world. God has always taught that he has a plan for us. He has always taught that plan through his prophets, his scriptures, and by the power of his Spirit.
What I like most about knowing and understanding that he has a plan for me is that I don’t have to worry about where I stand in line. If I find myself at the front of the line, I know that God’s love will keep me in check and remind me to love as he loves, to bless others, to let those who are hungry eat first, and to practice His love first. If I find myself at the back of the line, I know God’s love will help me reach out and find peace and safety in his love.
As I read this chapter yet again I was reminded that when we choose the pride and praise of the world, it’s like playing king of the mountain. We can only stay on top for a short while before another replaces us. But when we choose God’s plan and promise, we are promised to always have His love and his protection to guide us.
I know that no matter where I find myself, a deep understanding of God’s promise will keep me safely within my plan of promise.