The red carpet was filled with the famous, dressed in designer clothing and wearing expensive borrowed jewels. Most of those that walked the star-studded carpet will wake up knowing they lost the award they desperately wanted and worked to achieve. The borrowed jewelry will go back to the store and the designer clothing will be discussed and evaluated by talk shows and news broadcasts.
Why is acclaim and recognition a trophy to pursue? Is that characteristic a flaw of human nature, or is that something God created us with, to use for his glory? As I watched the stars stand and pose for the paparazzi I wasn’t envious of their lives, I was grateful for my own. Each person who walked the red carpet is someone’s son or daughter. There was a time when they ran around a playground just like everyone else. Their life choices led them to an arena where they will become either a winner or a loser of a small trophy. Most went home having lost what they wanted the most.
The power and position of Hollywood is a parable for our world today, and an excellent illustration for the truths of Scripture. Hollywood is everything the prodigal son pursued until he “came to his senses” in the pigpen. The stars of the screen and stage are lauded and applauded. The front rows of the arenas are reserved for the best of the best. The frenzy that surrounds the winners is immediate and unrelenting. Those that win won’t be able to run to the grocery store for a carton of milk or sit with a friend at a restaurant for dinner with any sense of privacy. Academy Award winners won’t be able to sneeze without someone posting it on Facebook or YouTube. The awards offer acclaim and recognition, but those trophies come with consequence.
We are created with a need to pursue acclaim and recognition, and that can be a good thing as long as we pursue the right trophy. The God who created us with the desire to impress also gave us his word so we would know whom we should impress.
- Galatians 1:10 – “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
- Colossians 3:23 – “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, for it is the Lord Jesus you are serving.”
- 1 Corinthians 10:31 – “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
- Hebrews 11:6 – “without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
- 2 Corinthians 7:1 – “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”
- Psalm 115:1 – “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory because of your lovingkindness, because of your truth.”
It is the Lenten season, a great time to think about the trophies we pursue. I recommend reading Jim’s Lenten devotional to help you focus on great things to pursue during this season. (Click here to download Transformed: How Stories of the Cross Are Changing the World.) We have all been “prodigals” at some point, pursuing trophies the world offers. Let’s be honest, those trophies do provide some momentary acclaim and recognition and God created us with a desire to pursue trophies. But God also made sure that we would know which trophies were worth pursuing. James, the half-brother of Jesus, wrote about the ultimate trophy. James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” God’s blessing is the highest trophy to achieve and the crown of life will be our reward forever.
God made us to pursue him and give him glory. God created us with a desire to pursue him and one day his children are guaranteed hear the words, “and the award goes to…”