The following article was submitted by our good friend, Woodrow “Woody” Crabtree. Edited by yours truly.
“And whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for others.” ~ Mark 10:44-45
“WE’RE NUMBER 1!” This is the great rallying cry of every sports fan when their team is in first place. The quest to be the best is the goal of every player, team, and fan, and when your team is in the first place you have bragging rights to claim, “We’re #1!”
We even discuss and debate who is the GOAT (greatest of all time) is for each sport. Is it Joe Montana or Tom Brady? Michael Jordan or Lebron James? Joe DiMaggio or Willie Mays? Gordie Howe or Wayne Gretsky? We all want to lay claim to who is #1.
Being in 2nd place isn’t considered “winning”. The legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Winning isn’t everything: it is the only thing.” As a society we do not want to be associated with losers. Leo Durocher, the late baseball coach, claimed that “nice guys finish last”, meaning that winning should come at all costs. If you need to cheat, play dirty, or show poor character it does not matter as long as we can say, “We’re #1!”.
We try and make ourselves #1. From advertising to psychology we are conditioned to focus on the self, making our individual needs, wants, and desires the driving force of our lives. We are constantly being told that each one of us is #1.
Here is the problem: we are not #1. We want to be. But we are not. Scripture tells us that we are all born under the curse of sin. We tend to limit sin to the physical acts of disobedience against God’s word. But sin is much deeper. Sin is the condition in which humankind is born into. Scripture teaches:
- Jeremiah 17:9 — The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
- Romans 3:9-12 (The Message) — Basically, all of us, whether insiders or outsiders, start out in identical conditions, which is to say that we all start out as sinners. Scripture leaves no doubt about it:
There is nobody living right, not even one,
nobody who knows the score, nobody alert for God.
They’ve all taken the wrong turn; they’ve all wandered down blind alleys.
No one’s living right; I can’t find a single one.
Scripture is clear: sin is a matter of the heart. Our hearts have been inclined towards sin before we are born. We think we can be #1. We convince ourselves we are #1. We are told that we can depend on our own righteousness to get to heaven and be #1. But in reality we cannot. We are not born in first place, and nothing we can do will make us #1.
Who then is #1? Who is the greatest of all time? Very simple: the Lord Jesus Christ. Because of our sin we are born separated from fellowship with God, our Creator. Our sin deserves death, but because of God’s great love for us, He gave His Son to pay the ransom for our sins.
- Romans 6:23 — For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
He came to earth to suffer and to die for all of humankind’s sin. He took upon himself our sins, and he died the death we deserve. When we confess our sin, we admit that we are not #1. When we invite Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior, he becomes #1 in our lives, and we share in his victory over sin, death, and hell.
Jesus paid the supreme price. His hand is stretched out to all those willing to accept it. Open up your heart and let the Lord become #1 – the centerpiece of your life. Trust me, come Judgment Day you want Jesus as your Savior, not your Judge.
Make Jesus #1 in your life today.