I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 3:4
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. –Ephesians 2:8-9
Award recipients will say they don’t work for awards. They don’t desire them. They don’t deserve them. But nearly all show up at the grand galas to receive them.
Awards come in all shapes, sizes, and types. There are trophies, titles, certificates, plaques, medals, badges, pins, and ribbons. Some prizes are noble. Others are golden. Nearly all are coveted.
Many awards are given solely for measurable achievement. The team with the highest score wins the championship. The student with the highest grade becomes the Valedictorian. The candidate with the greatest amount of votes is elected to office.
Other awards are based on a judge’s opinion. Judges review candidates, confer and deliberate and give their “yea” or “nay.” Achievement and aptitude may qualify a candidate for award eligibility, but the judge or judges make the final decision on who will be the ultimate winner.
Some of the most prestigious awards of all time include the National Medal of Science, the World Food Prize, the James Craig Watson Medal, the Polaris Award, the Faraday medal, the Hubbard Meal, the Templeton Prize, and the Kennedy Center Honors. The Grand Daddy of all awards are the Pulitzer Prizes for writing, reporting and public service and the Nobel Prizes, given for many fields and categories including Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Peace.
Right now, it’s awards time in
When the recent Golden Globes occurred with little fanfare and no celebrity turnout, TV audiences groaned and scratched their heads. They missed the jewels, the dresses, the glitz, and the glamour usually associated with that event. Thankfully, the Oscars will go on as scheduled Sunday night with all the customary hype, pomp, parties, and circumstance. The public demands
Why do we give so many awards in
Is it only the winners who count? Is there such a thing as receiving an award for something we haven’t achieved? Yes. It’s called Grace and it’s the most wonderful award of all.
Everyone Loves a Winner
For many, actor Jack Nicholson is a living legend. He’s the only living actor with 12 Academy Award nominations. He has won the award 3 times (for Best Actor in About Schmidt and As Good as It Gets, and for Best Supporting Actor in Terms of Endearment). Only the deceased Walter Brennan and Ingrid Bergman have won as many awards. Only the deceased Katherine Hepburn has eclipsed him with 4 wins.
Nicholson’s success is all the more amazing because he was abandoned by his father in childhood, and was raised by his grandmother—who he believed was his own mother. People love Jack Nicholson for his grin and his wily disposition, but mainly they love him because he is a winner who overcame incredible odds.
About the Academy Awards, Nicholson has said, “I’d love to win but now that I’ve had several good performances that people at large have liked, it becomes harder to excite them.” And so, if he wants to win again, Jack Nicholson (or his agent) has to search high and low for that next great role; and when he lands it, he has to reach down within himself to create a performance that will surpass all others who likewise are trying to achieve greatness. Jack Nicholson can do it. Not this year, but he might again. He’s that good. It’s what winners do.
They leave their personal struggles at the door, prepare their bodies to endure the long hours, they work hard on perfecting a character’s speech and mannerisms, they show up early on the set, and they do take after take until they get the shot just right. And it’s why we honor them with awards.
Everyone Wants Approval
We are hard-wired by God for relationships. Since God is love and we are made in His image, we desire and need love too. Many of us strive to earn love, especially from those closest to us. Others seem to have a knack for being “lovable” and find no difficulty in getting the love they want.
According to Gary Chapman, the author of The Five Love Languages, love is shown through words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.
On accepting her best actress Oscar in 1985 for her performance in Places in the Heart, Sally Field said, “This means so much more to me this time, I don’t know why. I think the first time [for Norma Rae] I hardly felt it because it was all too new. But I want to say ‘thank you’ to you. I haven’t had an orthodox career. And I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn’t feel it. But this time I feel it. And I can’t deny the fact that you like me… right now… you like me. Thank you.”
In one moment, Sally Field felt loved because she was given a gift (an Oscar and probably lots of free stuff directly afterwards), affirmation from her peers (their votes and applause), and she also probably received lots of hugs (physical touch) and engagements (quality time) by those who wanted to meet her or work with her.
Awards resonate with us because they represent a moment when we can give and receive love. If we’re the award recipient, we are the receiver of that love. If we are the award giver or the onlooker, we can bestow love onto the winner. Awards are a time for kisses, hugs, back-slaps, high-fives, and times to say “You’re the best” and “You’re a winner.” They are a time to say, “Let’s meet up so I can further congratulate you and bask in your glory.” They are a time to say, “Let’s work together on a future project.”
People love award winners because they have achieved greatness. This love, therefore, is conditional on one thing: success. It’s a love with strings attached.
Getting What We Don’t Deserve… This Amazing Grace
For all its razzle and dazzle,
Imagine if your name or my name were called this year at the Kodak Theater on February 24th for best actor or best director. It would be a joke. All the nominees would sit in their chairs with their mouths agape and we’d be sitting in our living rooms (or at a party) and say, “Whoa! I didn’t even know I was in the running.” The presenter would smile a moment, lean over and say into the microphone, “Matthew Kinne couldn’t be here tonight to accept the award. We will accept in on his behalf.” The band would play, someone might applaud awkwardly, and then a few days later, the Oscar would show up on your door step in a box filled with Styrofoam peanuts.
This scenario is absurd. It’s like out of some Salvadore Dali painting or Michel Gondry movie. It’s a dream.
But this is the award that God offers to everybody. Greater than the Nobel Prize, or a Kennedy Honor or even an Academy Award, God offers to all the prize of eternal life filled with peace, joy, and fulfilled relationship. This prize is available to everybody, and the greatest thing of all is that there isn’t a single thing we can do to earn it. We don’t have to act, direct, cure cancer, or bring peace to the
God offers love to all, with no strings attached. It’s available to all who admit they need God and are terrible at living life without Him.
In God, we receive:
- Words of affirmation: Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. –Luke 12:7
- Quality time: And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. –Matthew 28:20
- Gifts: The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. –Romans 6:22
- Acts of service: My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. –Psalm 121:2
- And physical touch: But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him –Luke 22:51.
Paper certificates burn. Metal trophies rust and corrode. But the love of God, his award for our relationship with him, endures beyond the Kodak Theater and the grave. His love endures forever.