May 13, 2019

The Trophy

Devotion for the Week...

One thing is for certain, providing childcare for a living ensures I will never run out of devotion ideas 😊 Lately they've been all about races. Going down the stairs? Whoever hits the bottom first yells, "I win!" Driving trucks from one end of the kitchen to the other? Whoever stops first yells, "I win! I get the trophy!"

Depending on the day, the trophy declaration can cause two possible reactions. Either the rest of the kids triumphantly yell, "I get the trophy, too!" or they start to cry and whine because they're not getting the trophy. In fact, the very first day Silas claimed he won a trophy, one of the girls immediately started screaming because she wasn't getting one.

Keep in mind, there is no trophy. I don't have a stash of trophies I hand out to the self proclaimed winners of all these races every single day. Whatever trophies they are claiming are entirely imaginary. Which means, of course, that there are more than enough to go around, lol.

Some days (usually the ones where there's crying and whining) I find the whole winning and getting trophies to be super annoying, but most of the time I'm just amazed at how ingrained it is for us to want to win and be given awards. Before they turn three, kids have definitely begun to understand that being first is better than losing and that if there's a trophy to be had they want to get it. Even if it's only the right to claim the imaginary trophy, they want to have that.

This is nothing new, of course. Right from the beginning of society, humans have tried to be ahead of the other humans around them. To control more land, or better land. To have more money, more servants, more power. If it's possible to have more of it, then humans have tried to position themselves so that they come out ahead.

Even Jesus' disciples weren't immune to this. In Matthew 20:21, the mother of James and John comes to Jesus and asks Him a favor, "In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left." We could say this was just a mother looking out for her boys, but those boys were standing right there, ready to answer enthusiastically when Jesus asked if they could drink from the bitter cup He was about to drink. They eagerly wanted the honour their mother was trying to arrange for them.

When the other disciples heard that James and John were asking to be given places of honour, they were indignant, probably because they too harboured the desire for a place of honour. So Jesus sat them all down for a little talking to: "You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many" (vv. 25-28).

The Bible doesn't tell us what the disciples said to that, or what they thought. I would imagine they were a little confused, a little frustrated that Jesus wasn't talking about all the power and glory they'd have one day. Whatever their reaction was, they didn't really understand what Jesus was trying to teach them.

At the Last Supper, after Jesus announced that one of them would betray Him, they "began to ask each other which of them would ever do such a thing" (Luke 22:23). And then, as proof that they didn't understand the concept at all, "they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them" (v. 24). They just didn't get it, did they? So, again, He taught them, "among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves" (vv. 26, 27).

It's natural to want to win a race and get the trophy, even if it's all pretend. When I play a game, I aim to win, even if all I win is the right to brag for two minutes before we set up for the next round. It's fun to win! There's nothing wrong with that and Jesus wasn't talking about races or games.

He was talking about how we live our lives and how we treat others. The world around us teaches that in order to be successful, we have to win at everything and everyone else should have to serve us because of our greatness. Jesus says that's not how we should be at all. We're supposed to be like Him, aiming to serve others and make their lives better rather than constantly looking for other people to serve us and make our lives better.
Weekly devotions on Christian living |
And, in the end, if we live His way, then we will hear, "Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!" Now there's a trophy worth having! And the best part is, there are plenty of them to go around.

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