“Everybody Gets a Trophy” – Right? 

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, April 18, 2015 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

  I have played with many people who play musical instruments over the years, but I have played with very few musicians. I have competed with many people who play sports over the years, but few athletes. I have enjoyed debating theories with many thoughtful people over the years, but few philosophers. I have sunk my teeth into many intellectual puzzles, imagined scientific breakthroughs, “MacGyver”d mechanical problems, and even storyboarded videos, but met few scholars, scientists, engineers, or videographers. There is a difference between a hobbyist and a professional, and there is a difference between someone who expects an award for just showing up, and those who have truly risen to greatness.

  We have an assumption in our culture that everyone can do anything they want.  That if we just believe in ourselves, we can be anyone we want to be and do anything we want to do. What follows that assumption is a sense that we deserve a trophy just because we tried - and in some cases just because we showed up.  But it just isn’t true. Unfortunately, we end up in denial when we fail – declaring our best was good enough and we “deserve” the trophy.  Why am I slamming this so hard?  Do I have some objection to encouraging people to give their all, have faith in themselves and try new things?  Of course not. I am concerned with something far more insidious.

  When we believe we can be anyone or anything (in our own effort, and out of our own imaginations) we have taken the first step in rebellion against our design and against God (read my blog posts on Romans chapter 1-2 for more insight on this).  That step alone is dangerous enough.  And when we follow that step with entitlement (“I deserve it!”) we go blind to the reality of our situation, blind to our need for grace, and blind to why Jesus Christ even matters.

     Read Romans 5:1-21.  Let me unpack three sections here:
- Verses 1-5 – Notice that when we know we need God, and have faith in Him through Jesus Christ, we gain peace and stand as examples of what God’s grace does.  When we are willing to fully engage and even find value in our struggles, we will persevere to get the most from what our struggles can teach us.  Persevering through our struggles builds character, and our developing character gives us hope for what is ahead of us, as we see God’s influence more clearly.
- Verses 6-11 – While we were helpless, Jesus did for all humanity what we could not do for ourselves.  We were lost in our self-centered way of living, trying to be whomever we want, and Jesus provided a way back to the journey we were meant to be on with God.
- Verses 18-21 – God’s standards (e.g. the Law) made us aware of our rebellion, our self-centeredness, and our absolute inability to accomplish anything truly good on our own.  God in His wisdom shows us that all that selfishness only brings death and deserves nothing.  Through Jesus, God showed His love and grace to us, so that we could become fully who He intended us to be.  And more than that, He rescued us from eternal death, to give us eternal life

  If we go blind to the reality that we “deserve” nothing, that we are owed nothing by God, by nature, or by any creature or power in heaven or on earth, we go blind to the greatest blessing God has given us. It is a gift to realize we are self-focused people walking away from our design (a.k.a. sinners) in need of grace.  When we see how weak and powerless we really are, we gain the greatest opportunity anyone can have.  Just like the beginning of wisdom is to say, “I don’t know,” the beginning of life is to say, “I deserve nothing, thank God for all I have.”

  So, take off the delusion that everyone should get a trophy, shine a light on the illusion that anyone can be anything they want to be, and start by recognizing you are not yet who you were designed to be.  Look honestly at the selfishness and rebellion you are living against God’s plans for you.  Look honestly at the shortcomings, desires, habits, and brokenness that you have.  Thank God for helping you see your sin more clearly, and then allow His gracious love to wash over you, fill your heart with the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ, and begin to unfold the life He intended for you.  He will make you into the fullest and most fully alive version of you – because He is the one who designed you that way, and He intended for you to uniquely reveal a glimpse of the one who made you – and the grace that saved you.

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