When I was a teenager, I had a shirt that read, “Second place is first loser”. When I watched “Talladega Nights” and Ricky Bobby said, “If you’re not first, you’re last,” I laughed pretty hard. He expressed my mentality pretty well. I’ve always been on the competitive side. Part of that must come from being the middle child. I honestly can’t stand losing, and now my son has it. He got a 99 on a test this year. He came home disappointed and said, “I might as well have failed.” Not being first is a hard pill to swallow, but it is what Christ has called us to. When we accept Him, we are to get off the throne of our life to make Him number one, putting ourself in second place.
On the night before Jesus was to be crucified, He knew what was coming. For 33 years He knew what He was born to do. Even though He knew it, and was willing, His flesh fought back. In Mark 14:36, we hear Him pray, “Father, my Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet not what I want, but what you want” (GNT). He made a conscious effort in the most difficult circumstance to submit to God’s will and place His own in second place. He was demonstrating to us that we must yield to God and constantly offer Him first place in our lives. Anything less is not true submission to Him.
1 Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts set Christ apart [as holy—acknowledging Him, giving Him first place in your lives] as Lord” (AMP). Becoming a mature Christian is the process of giving up the throne of your life to Jesus. It’s willfully taking second place, which is a very hard thing to do. When we accept second place, and allow Him first place in our lives, we fulfill God’s will for our lives because we have life in proper order. If you’re struggling to give up first place, you’re not alone. It’s a daily process of taking up our cross, crucifying our flesh and following Him (Matthew 16:24). Spiritual growth and maturity happen when we accept second place.