I have never been in the Olympics, but I know exactly how the Olympic medalists feel, especially the silver medalists. Last Saturday, I wrote about how I had once won first place in a school-wide speech contest which meant I was going to represent my school at the district competition. At the district competition, we were all assigned a number which was the order in which we were to speak. I was given a high number which meant that there were several contestants ahead of me. Most of the contestants were good, but didn’t really stand out except for one girl. To put it simply, she was a ball of fire. Even if you didn’t understand anything she said, (which I didn’t) she was still captivating, or scary. She was loud, she was dynamic, and she made up the judges’ minds. There could be no one that would speak better. The highest score was given to her across the board.
A few contestants later, my number was called. I spoke just as I did in the school-wide competition. I was emphatic where I needed to be, made no mistakes, delivered a clean presentation, and sat back down and waited for the results. Then I waited some more. Apparently this year’s decision was taking a much longer time than usual. When the announcement was finally made that the judges had reached a decision, the room quieted as the contestants were called up beginning from the third place winner. I did not receive a third place. The second place winner was called and it wasn’t me. Could it be? Could I have won the district competition? The announcer suddenly paused and said, “Due to the closeness of the scores, we have decided to award two second-place trophies.” Normally, a kid would be happy winning second in district. Not this kid. Although my principal explained that because the other girl had gone first and the judges had already decided on her score before hearing me, and even though she told me that I was only four points away from first, I still wept like a defeated loser.
My point in sharing this story actually has nothing to do with who won or lost the district competition. Bear with me for a moment, because the lesson I learned from this event points directly to what Christ has done for us. You see, many times I would find myself looking at people like my pastor who loves God without condition or missionaries who have sacrificed everything for the sake of the gospel and I think, “My goodness! With people like that, I have no chance of getting my rebellious heart accepted by God.” What I had forgotten is that the Person who completed my test (or gave my speech) has already made up the Judge’s mind. A perfect score has already been given, and if we have received the gift Christ offers, our name is on the test (or the scorecard). It doesn’t matter who does what better. The Word of God says that, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God AND all are justified freely by his grace.” (Romans 3:23-24) At this point the illustration breaks down a bit because the score is applied to ALL who will receive Jesus’ gift, not just one person. However, the point is that the decision has already been made. We are perfect. We are spotless, We are winners because of Christ! No accusation from the devil, no performance from another believer can change the Judge’s mind. Jesus’ trophy is ours. End of discussion. Praise the Lord!