On a shelf in a downstairs room at our house are many trophies. Most of them belong to our sons, reminders of days spent playing baseball and basketball. A couple of them were given to me for helping coach their teams. There was a gleam in our boys’ eyes when those trophies were first given. Now that they’re men, they hardly care for them at all. Other things have become more important to them.
On a wall in my office hang two diplomas and a citation announcing that I’m a Kentucky Colonel. In earlier days, those pieces of parchment were a source of pride. Now I view them more as conversation pieces. I’m thankful to have them, yes, but other things have become more important to me.
Paul also had trophies. Not the glittering statuettes that come to our minds, but attainments that once were a source of pride. He spoke of how his view of them had changed: “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7,8, NKJV).
Before writing those words, the apostle had pointed to his credentials as a Jew par excellence. He had been “a Hebrew of the Hebrews,” he affirmed, and possessed zeal to a higher degree than most. Those were the trophies displayed on Paul’s shelves. All of them, though, were boxed up and stored away so his life could exalt Christ. Nothing else mattered anymore.
Revelation 4 presents a similar scene of reevaluation. John had already noted the presence in heaven of twenty-four elders, seated on thrones and adorned with gold crowns on their heads. But when the name of Jesus is mentioned, the elders abandon their thrones and cast their crowns of gold before Jesus’ throne. From their prostrate position they declare what is most glorious in their hearts: “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for you created all things, and by your will they exist and were created” (Revelation 4:11). In the presence of Jesus, it just doesn’t seem appropriate to cling to a trophy.
As I ponder this inspired information, I wonder about my valued things. What is it that I delight to show to others? Do I want them to know that I graduated with honors? That I have risen to the top of my profession? That I’m wealthy enough to own the very finest? Or do others see that Jesus is my trophy? Does he occupy the highest and most prominent shelf in my life?
“And when before the throne I stand in him complete, I’ll lay my trophies down, all down at Jesus’ feet.”
Nothing in life compares with knowing Jesus.