Despite the ongoing pandemic, Award’s Season marches defiantly onwards. 2021 launched with a dogged search for winners in a season of unspeakable loss. Tenaciously grasping the SAG’s, the Emmy’s, the Grammy’s, Superbowl, the Golden Globes and even the Oscar’s is our culture’s attempt to produce artificial gaiety amidst the unrelenting plague. The show must go on!
While I don’t worship at the altar of celebrity culture, it’s a cutting revelation to watch which deeds are actually taking home the trophies. Lately, the most outrageous, lewd, defiled, demeaning performances in the spheres of media, movies, music and even politics are extolled. Shocking words and offensive images which apparently exemplify this generations’ ideas of liberty inundate us. The vilest among men stand exalted, and they are being rewarded for it.
As Christians, it’s a thorny problem to know how to respond. We’re in the world, but not of the world. We’re light and salt, but not in competition for the kudos. We’re heralds of Good News, but neither recognized nor accepted. Despite it all, we are told emphatically and repeatedly that there is rich and gratifying reward in righteousness and a day coming to receive it.
But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:3-6
The lack of tangible accolades is one of the most contrary parts of being a believer. Face it; this is a lifestyle characterized by laying our lives down, not self-promotion. It’s hard to hang on to the truly precious in a world full of shiny, glittery things. So much of human endeavor is based on achievement, and we can’t take our eyes off it. Difficult not to get caught up in carnal momentum for some kind of trophy. Unless you’re consumed touting your own horn and shamelessly ramming Your Brand down everyone’s throat with Kardashian tenacity, Honor is a difficult, illusive concept.
Most people, believers or not, are simply scraping out the win one day at a time. Many struggle through painful marriages, demanding job situations, grim economics, debilitating health crisis, or countless other soul-grinding scenarios that require humble grace on a minute-by minute basis. Nobody is throwing the spotlight on those valiant toilings of gut-level, self-sacrificing courage.
Lately, I’ve been mediating a particular passage from Hebrews. It’s a description of the life of Moses; his highs and lows. A divine vantage point casts a slightly different interpretation of events than the one we might have judged from ground level.
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.
By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel. Hebrews 11:23-29
Despite all his mistakes, the Lord makes one thing clear. Though he may have gone about it a bit haphazardly, Moses had his priorities in the right place. He honored what God honored. When all was said and done, he came out one of the heroes of the faith. The kicker? So will we.
Though it’s human nature to crave acknowledgement from one another, in the final analysis, it’s just not enough. The nobility, devotion and dignity we long for comes from one source only: The Lord. In His eyes, we are already priceless. We have been given high places and great exploits; we know it in our bones. There are magnificent crowns to be awarded to those who have spent their lives loving good. Now if we could just believe it.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6
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