“. . . who was surnamed Justus . . .” Acts 1:23-26
No one likes to be second, it’s a big test of the ego. Happy is the one who can serve cheerfully in second place. God uses the one who has purified himself of every trace of self-importance, conceit, and jealousy. It is no small victory to be thrown into competition with an equal, and rise to second place.
Both Justus and Matthias had identical qualifications and experience. But the lot fell to Matthias. What Justus got was the opportunity, dying to his own ambitions and be second place.
From the beginning, Justus had been a disciple of Jesus. He had been trained, which many in the early church had not been privileged to enjoy. Justus could speak of Jesus from personal knowledge, he had both seen and loved. He might not have received the coveted position of being among the twelve, but he had a great calling on his life. And it’s likely that he humbly sat himself down.
What a heroic soul Justus was. He persevered being passed over, and responded as if nothing had wounded his ambition. The opportunity to rise to high position had come to him suddenly and unexpectedly, and passed him by just as quickly. The dream was broken, but the business of his life remained. Justus’ faith and discipleship were not a dream. And there, among the responsibilities of second place, God was waiting and wanting to use him.
To live faithfully in second place requires some nerve and grit. To serve faithfully with contentment is not for the faint of heart. There are those who never cycle back from being passed over. Either they become bitter, or they continue on, discouraged and detached. They are convinced they were meant for more and remain blind that first place may have ruined their effectiveness.
Second place is an opportunity for showing the spirit and stuff we are made of. It’s the place to disarm self-pity and wounded self-love that causes us to despise those ahead of us. It’s helpful to remember the discipline of second place is a test of character. And God can do first rate work through second place people, but we are a mess in any position if we remain egotistical.
Can you serve Him in second place?