One of the gifts that I got from my parents once I had “grown up” was a binder filled with every certificate I had ever earned. The black notebook contained every perfect attendance certificate and character award; even hand-written accolades from the teacher were kept and protected. Perhaps it’s not saying much that all the honorable mentions I had received in life could be gathered in a single 3-ring binder, but there it was – the encapsulation of what others had noticed about me.
I didn’t ask them, but I assumed my parents kept these flimsy and worthless pieces of papers for a variety of reason. One, perhaps, is because they both came from military childhoods and therefore their own proofs of accolades had been lost in the moves and transitions over time. Or perhaps they saved these awards because they wanted to assure themselves that they must be doing something right in raising me. Or perhaps they simply did it so that I would have the reminders of what I had achieved, that later I would be able to look back and see the work that had been done and where it had brought me to today. Regardless of the reasons, these paper trophies are evidence of good things that occurred in my life. They are reminders of things that were once worth celebrating, and of the journey that I’ve been on since then.
And while one may argue that it’s silly to keep this collection of paper, I think it’s important for Christians to have their own reminders – their own trophy case, if you will. These trophies are not given to them based on what they’ve accomplished or what they’ve achieved, but are kept by them as reminders of the good things that God has done in their lives. Trophies are normally given for personal achievement, but spiritual trophies are distributed based on divine blessing. They are the fruit that result when God intercedes in our life to bring about His gracious purpose.
In this life, trophies are given because there’s a reason to celebrate and there’s no better cause for celebration than being the recipient of God’s grace. It’s important that we hang on to the reminders of these times, that we cling to the evidence of what God has accomplished through us, because these awards of grace propel us to persevere when things are tough. They motivate us, because they remind us that the real reward is still waiting for us on the other side.
Everyone likes to showcase their trophies – to put on display the validation of their accomplishments. May it be more important to us to display the gifts of grace that God has bestowed, to acclaim His work, and not our own.