Laying Down Our Trophies

Michael Beck

“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” (Galatians 6:14)

Who wants to be known for their impotence? Men glory in their superior abilities by which they have achieved success. The things they are most proud of are the things they want others to see. A prominent place is reserved for their trophy case. The walls of home and office are lined with the awards and certificates they have earned. The titles conferred on them are conspicuously paraded before the eyes of the impressed.

The Apostle Paul had a lot he could have boasted of, but he refrained from doing so. So far was he from wanting to glory in himself and his accomplishments that he went to the opposite extreme and chose to glory in his weaknesses. This though was the way of His Master, who displayed weakness, not power, on the cross. The cross was the antithesis of glory. It was a horrid spectacle where the worst, and most accursed, of men were publicly tortured and humiliated.

What do we know of conformity to the cross of Christ? The hymnist wrote: “So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross. Till my trophies at last I lay down.” Do we “love that old cross where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain?” The cross had a “wondrous attraction” to Paul. He counted all that was gain to him loss that He might know Christ, being made conformable to His death. Conformity to Christ’s death means we are so despised in the eyes of men that when they see us they hide their faces from us. They find no beauty in us to be desired. They don’t want to look at us, anymore than one would enjoy looking at a gruesomely mangled figure on an instrument of Roman torture.

On the cross, Jesus was displayed before men’s judgment as a nobody, a failure, a “worm.” He was counted a transgressor, and condemned as a blasphemer. But it was not human approval He sought. He did not parade any medals, or awards, or titles for men to admire. His cross had the exact opposite effect.

To learn of Jesus Christ, His meekness and lowliness of heart, is a lifelong pursuit. Along the way, we must learn to cherish the old rugged cross. The more we do so, the more likely will our trophies come off the mantle.

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.