Participation Trophies

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you. Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Philippians 3:1-7

Like a good teacher, Paul gathers his thoughts for a summary of what the class should remember for the tests of life.

First, an important caution: beware, beware, beware. Beware of everything false. This is akin to Jesus’ warning to “be shrewd as serpents, innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).

Life must be navigated with the understanding that evil lurks around every corner. Square everything with what you know to be true, with the aid of the Spirit of God.

Here’s the operating principle: put no confidence in the flesh. In other words, don’t trust your own judgment. Submit everything, through prayer, for processing through God’s grid.

This may be quite difficult for those with impressive resumes. Paul counted up all his accomplishments and tossed them in the trash. I say we list only the things that we’ve had the privilege of watching God accomplish through us.

Some of us purists don’t like participation trophies. We think if you don’t win, you don’t get any hardware. But in this instance, we proudly display proof of our participation in God’s miracles, “Grade B” or otherwise.

About Rick Reynolds

You'll find me in the far right hand corner of evangelical Christianity. Been studying the Word for nearly 45 years and counting.
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