As a former first grade teacher, one of the most troublesome display of our human “me first” attitude was lining up to go from point a to point b in the course of a day. Chairs went flying, little feet scrambled and tripped on other feet, big ones pushed little ones out of the way, little ones fought back and some just cried. I wouldn’t get to the end of my calm words, “Let’s go to music, let’s see if you can walk over to the door quietly…” before chaos ensued. I tried all kinds of ways to calm this herd of heathenistic behavior gathering at the door every time we needed to leave the classroom.
I prayed about it. I prayed about everything as a teacher. I remembered Jesus words, “The first shall be last and last shall be first” and had an idea. After the “line-up” order was given that morning I said nothing as they clamored for position and rank in line, pushing, shoving and squeezing into position. When they realized I was saying nothing about their bad behavior, all became very quiet. They finally looked up to see what was going on. They stared those little eyes at me, still pushing a bit, because they were NOT social distancing as we say these days.
I then said, “follow me”. I took the hand of the first child who had pushed her way to the front of the line and led the rest of the kids around the room, making a circle. I simply said, “stay where you are in line”. I then went to the last kid in line who never pushed or shoved. He wanted no part of that behavior and felt it wasn’t worth the fight. I took HIS hand and led the line with the last one who daily obeyed the words of his teacher. He became the first to enter the activity they all enjoyed. No words. Just sighs. Point made. Thank you, Jesus!
(NOTE: Jesus made the statement “many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first” (Matthew 19:30) in the context of His encounter with the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16–30). After the young man turned away from Jesus, unable to give up his great wealth (verse 22), Jesus’ disciples asked the Lord what reward they would have in heaven, since they had given up everything to follow Him (verses 27–30). Jesus promised them “a hundred times as much,” plus eternal life (verse 29). Then He said, “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first” (verse 30). Many will not “get it” and refuse to give up what they hold onto in this world so dearly.)
Speaking of good behaviors, as teachers we would always post “The Golden Rule” in our classrooms, in various ways. Most of the world (and some teachers) probably do not know this quote originally came from the Bible through Jesus’ words on the mount. He was trying to get the crowds to do what is right and good without waiting for someone to do it for you. Be the first to do the right thing. Be consistent with hearts motivated to be who God wants us to be. Be the example of righteousness in light of the two greatest commandments, Love God, Love Others. But not many will. They want to be first, have it all, and have it their way. The road to being and doing the will of God is narrow because few choose to travel this path. It cost us all we have to gain all that God has for us. (A MORE than fair trade!) But many can’t let go of what is tangible and temporary for what is eternal.
Matthew—The Law Fulfilled
Matthew 7:12-14, NLT
The Golden Rule
12 “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.
The Narrow Gate
13 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. 14 But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.
ONE LAST THOUGHT…
I’m reminded of another story…(shocker, I know.) A mother was preparing pancakes for her two sons one Saturday morning. Kevin and Ryan just loved pancakes. In fact, they loved their mom’s pancakes so much that on this particular Saturday morning they began to argue (as brothers will do) over who would get the first pancake. Five-year-old Kevin and three-year-old Ryan were not only fussing; they were also pushing and shoving, trying, each one, to be first in line and get the first pancake.
Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson, so she said, “Boys, boys! Calm down! I want to ask you a question. If Jesus were here with us this morning, what do you think he would say?” No answer. “Well,” she continued, “I’ll tell you what he would say. He would say, ‘Please let my brother have the first pancake; I can wait.’ ”
In quick reply, five-year-old Kevin said, “Great idea, Mom!” and then he turned to his younger brother and said, “Ryan, you be Jesus!”
We chuckle but I need to ask, WHO will be Jesus to a desperate world in need of a Savior and His teachings? Find the narrow gate and follow Jesus right through the door to heaven! We don’t have to be first, we just need to be in line!
Abba, Father in Heaven,
Great are you, Lord. Reveal your glory and power to us today through whatever means you decide. Show us your will and plan for each of our lives. Help us to love you back with ALL our hearts, minds and souls. Help us then to love each other like you love us with unconditional love, grace and mercy. Help us to lay down all the earthly that stands between you and us. Help us to “be Jesus” by obeying what You tells us to be and do through the prompting of Your Holy Spirit living in us. Thank you, Lord for saving my soul. Thank you for teaching me still. I’m not there yet.
In Jesus Name, Amen