I want to talk to you today about getting or not getting honored and the temptations that are common to all of us in these areas. Think about these two questions, first, what do I do when I am disappointed and don’t get an award? Number two, what do I do when I do get what I want or what I have worked for?
Let’s talk about the first question and what is the temptation when you get disappointed. When your name doesn’t get called. When you have to sit there and watch someone else getting the honor. What is happening on the inside? What are you saying to yourself? Do you get angry? Do you cross your arms and stick out your lip and pout? Do feel sorry for yourself? This is very tempting to do. In fact, it is very natural to do that but as we have been studying in the beatitudes, living in the kingdom of God means living in a way that is radically different from what comes naturally. Here is what the apostle Paul says about what a Christian’s response should be when someone else gets honored,
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
When we see someone else get honored, we are not to think about ourselves, instead, we are to rejoice with that person. Last year we hosted the regional speech meet. I called up the finalists in each category and then would announce the top scores. It is quite an honor. You get your name announced and you get a medal put around your neck. A big round of applause. It is not uncommon to see students fight back tears of disappointment when their name is not read. I remember one girl from another school who had worked very hard but did not get a top score. When the girl’s name next to her did get read as a superior score, the first girl immediately turned to her and gave her a hug. It was such an amazing example of rejoicing with someone who is rejoicing. It is a great example of how to not look inward to me, but outward to my neighbor.
Now let’s talk about the temptation of what happens when we do get honored. When our name is called and we get that medal we worked for. What is tempting to do? It is easy to not be thankful. To not show gratitude to God. It is natural to see something good happen and think you made this happen in your own strength or because of how smart you are. On top of that, especially the older you get, you become more and more aware and concerned about what other people think of you. You want to be on the stage to prove to others that you are something special.
The big problem with this is you start attaching what you think about yourself based on what others say about you or think about you. Your identity gets wrapped up in the opinions of your friends, your classmates, perhaps even your parents. If they like you and think you are really something, then you feel really good about yourself. This feeling doesn’t last because you are trying to fill your eternal soul with temporal things that don’t last. God did not create you to find your identity in anything other than Himself. Think of it this way, we are not to look horizontally for what we can only find vertically.
You fight against the temptation of pride that comes when you get honored, by pointing to God and giving Him all the credit, all the glory. You should think, “I made honor roll not because I’m smart but because God gave me the ability to work hard. Praise Him!”
In conclusion, being honored should not be your goal. Doing your best so that God gets the glory should be your goal. If you didn’t do your best this quarter, this chapel is a motivation to do better and strive to do your best starting right now. If you did your best and someone else got honored, rejoice with them. If you did your best and you did get honored, praise God for His grace to you.
The apostle Paul gives us the cure to how to handle these temptations when he wrote in Romans,
I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
Just like in the Old Testament when the Jewish people would come to the tabernacle and offer a lamb as a burnt sacrifice, we are to offer our lives to God as a living sacrifice so that we can say “Thy will be done.”
In the end, it will not matter how many honor roll certificates you have hanging on the wall, how many A’s and B’s you have or don’t have. What will matter is if you have done your best in all things to God’s glory so that when you face Jesus, you will hear him tell you “well done, good and faithful servant.” This quarter, let’s do our work so that Jesus will tell us “well done”. It may or may not mean I call your name up at the next honor roll chapel, but if you are working to do your best, God will be glorified and pleased and that is what matters the most.