I am reading my devotional today with a big smile on my face. They featured the Jamaican bobsled team. How inspirational.
In the film ‘Cool Runnings’, the Jamaican bobsleigh team is so desperate to win an Olympic medal, they’re convinced none of their efforts matter if they end up without it. All the learning, joy and growth they’d devoted themselves to, are forgotten next to a piece of metal on a ribbon. Their coach is a 400-pound man who won an Olympic medal bobsleighing 20 years earlier and had been a complete loser ever since. He tells them, ‘If you’re not enough before the gold medal, you’re not enough with it.’
Jesus talked a lot about rewards. But the pursuit of rewards can hurt us when we go after them for the wrong reason. A trophy is not the achievement itself – it’s not the learning we’ve gained, the muscles we’ve trained, or the courage we’ve developed. It’s just a symbol of achievement. It’s an external validation of our worth. At best, the trophies in the showcase are little reminders, something to make us grateful for the past and keep us motivated for the future. At its worst, the trophy case becomes a shrine, a tool to prop up a false image of ourselves. Trophies bring momentary pleasure that can be addictive, but the pleasure always wears off. In the book of Revelation we see 24 leaders ‘… lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God… ” ‘ (Revelation 4:10-11 NIV). When you give all the glory to God, your accomplishments bring joy, but when you try to take the credit for yourself your trophies tarnish, fade and become a burden. Look at Enoch: his ultimate trophy was ‘that he pleased God’.