Trophies

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Dust-laden trophies sit on our fireplace mantels, or adorn a special place in a beautiful cabinet. Other awards hang on our office walls, reminding visitors that we have arrived at a level of significance in our field of endeavor. Some have gained so many trophies that those of lesser importance are relegated to undignified storage bins in the attic.

Why do awards, certificates, trophies, and degrees mean so much to us? Why do we work so hard for 15 minutes of glory, 20 seconds of applause and a hunk of plastic encased in gold paint? Why are we disappointed when we receive a trophy that says 2nd place and is an inch shorter than our competitor’s trophy? Why is a blue ribbon with a material value of 25 cents so significant?

Throughout our lives it is common for people to strive for awards, whether it be a star on their first grade drawing of a tree that looks more like a distraught lollipop, or a ribbon with a gold Olympic coin hanging around our neck. To have a 12-inch square of cement with a star and name engraved in it, is of strange, but impressive value to some.

The 90 year-old man who boasts of his batting average on the high school team hangs on to what for a moment impressed his world. The 85 year-old lady who relives the glory of being the beauty queen in her senior year at high school revels in the remembrance of the homage other students paid her. Now these bits of history are insignificant and hold little interest. And yet, we strive to be the best, the prettiest, the smartest, the strongest, so that we can win our award. In life, it ultimately may seem to be a vain effort. What award we anticipate eternally, is another matter. And yet, how interested are we in striving for eternal rewards? Are heavenly awards on our to-do list? Is this a matter which we will not be considered until we pass through the pearly gates, only to see that our potentially large trophy case has one or two lonely little trophies? How much should this be a matter of concern in our Christian life?

The news items regarding the 2014 Oscars will serve as the backdrop for our more significant discussion in this lesson about what the Bible has to say about eternal consequences . . . awards for good and bad deeds.

God has a lot to say on this subject. In the Bible there are more than 100 verses in which the noun “reward,” or the verb “to reward” is used. Besides this, there are many more verses that discuss the subject but do not use the word “reward.” In the Old Testament there are 27 different nouns or verbs that are translated by the English word “reward” or “to reward.” It is clear that we will not be able to discuss all of these verses in this lesson, but hopefully by the end of the lesson all will have a better understanding of this Biblical teaching.

The news articles for this lesson tells of the annual event where people win awards, acclaim and accolades for their prowess in their field of labor. In order to acquire these awards people put forth much effort and expense. Many do not realize that the efforts of their lives evidenced by the good or evil works are also being judged for an eternal award ceremony. As we look at various passages of Scripture in this lesson we will discover what God has to say about His award system.

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