Have you ever been excited to get the last of something? For example, you go to the store to get that really needed item only to find that you don't see it on any of the shelves. You ask one of the salespersons and they go to their warehouse and bring out the last one! You probably feel so happy and grateful right?! I know I do.
The verse today was used by Jesus a couple of times in the Bible and this one refers to the young rich ruler. Read Matthew 19:16-30. He was unwilling to give up anything he has acquired to follow Jesus. We can get like that too if we're not careful. Possessions that we get are nice and God doesn't mind anyone being rich, what He cautions us on is letting these items rule over us to the point that we can't give them up.
His statement, "the last shall be first" refers to that sometimes it's the least expected who wins the race. In other words...the more we attain in this life, possessions, position, etc., the harder it is to give these up. We have to remember that nothing we steward on earth can be taken with us after this life is over. So, why put so much emphasis on them? Why not enjoy what we have thanking God for them and leave it at that? Well for some, they define their worthiness on how much they have earned like: income, job status, where they live, even education. However, our worth value in God's eyes is not on what we achieve, it's based on the condition of our heart.
Jesus doesn't Judge us the Way we Do
Last being first doesn't mean that you have to live in poverty to be first in God's kingdom and it doesn't mean that being rich means being last either. Many times God tested the early Christians to give up what they considered precious (ex., Abraham & Isaac), but they didn't have to. It was to test the condition of their heart and devotion to God.
Suppose for a moment a storm comes and wipes out all your belongings, will you simply fall apart? It might be hard to answer that if that has never happened to you. I've thought about how I would feel if faced with that...and the reality is it can happen. Life is unpredictable and we have to count on something that cannot be moved or changed. The simple truth is, items corrode and lose their value, cars break down, jobs are not secure, people leave, banks fail...the only person we can trust in that is unshakeable, unmovable is Christ Himself. And He deserves to be FIRST in our life, not LAST.