No Trophies | Galatians 6:14
Galatians 6:14 | ESV [This Week’s Passage: Galatians 6:11-18]
But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Mike’s Authorized Version (MAV)
No trophies for me. None. Ever. Only the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. There, and only there will I whoop and holler, there only will I raise the roof with boastful, extravagant praise. Because it’s there this whole sick, backward world system with all of its upside down values and views has been finally and forever crucified, dead, and buried to me, and I to it.
Counting coup refers to the practice of the Plains Indians in gaining prestige by touching an enemy warrior and returning unharmed. After battle, the tribe would gather and share tales of bravery and “count coup.” We collect trophies. The Galatian troublemakers collected foreskins. And yes, that’s gross, but it’s the truth of it. Takes me back to David’s unusual dowry for Saul’s daughter Michal. He was asked to deliver 100 Philistine foreskins. He showed up with 200. Ugh. Religion really can degenerate into such a bloody business of self-promotion and trophy hunting as we try to placate others (and God!) and advance ourselves. Our ego is so wrapped up in securing bragging rights! And our temples, synagogues, and churches, intended to be sacred spaces, can so easily end up being just another dandified trophy case. Jesus catches us perfectly in his story in Luke:
He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’ “Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’” Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” (Luke 18:9-14 | Message)
For Paul it’s simple: No trophy but the scandalous cross; no bragging rights but Jesus. But O with what difficulty does ego depart from us!
What trophies, religious or otherwise, do you find yourself compelled to collect?
“God, have mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.” Lord teach me to pray this prayer in all the right and healthy ways. Pry my fingers off all the trophies I cling to. Let me live free and lightly in you, with you as my only ground of bragging – and being. Through Jesus.
For all of this week’s resources on Galatians including this week’s DG video on Galatians, check out the Vineyard website.