Just been with Glen at the Jerusalem Awards, where he and some mates won one of the categories (‘Best Short Media’). Hurrah! We – I – am very proud, and you can see the video that won it here. In general however, I find it hard to identify with winners, (though I’ll make an exception for Glen). My heart and sympathy is with the “losers.” The triers. The “ordinary.”
Put yourself in the shoes of a finalist. You’re paused, waiting for the verdict you’ve been working towards for years. “And the winner is…Not You.” Is that how your life feels? Like you’re constantly falling short of an invisible standard? Looking after a loved one, when no-one else can see. Serving behind the scenes – at church or at home. Bringing up a family, day after day. Fighting an illness or supporting someone who is. Getting out of bed, when everything in you shouts, ‘despair’. Shouldn’t there also be a prize for all that? There is – but it’s not a trophy.
In Matthew 6 Jesus talks about “hypocrites” who do everything “to be seen by men.” They fast and pray and give, not because these are good things, but because they want to be seen to be good. Jesus says that these folks have “received their reward in full.” Not everyone who wins awards is a hypocrite! But it’s a temptation for us all. And Jesus points us to a much better way: for those who do things for an audience of one, “Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
We don’t read about the ordinary battles in the papers. We don’t see the daily struggles on TV. But Someone does: and His verdict matters more than a million judges. Most of us live our lives out of the limelight; but He sees into the shadows and He is thrilled with our efforts. He’s cheering us on. He’s with us. And as He bestows on us the goal of our salvation, these words will ring for eternity: “well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matt 25:21).