Read 1 Corinthians 3:5-15; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; 2 Corinthians 10:18
This week, President Trump presided over the honoring of seven new recipients of the Medal of Freedom. This is the highest honor that a civilian can receive. Three of the honorees were awarded posthumously. They were Babe Ruth, Elvis Presley and Antonin Scalia. A great baseball player, a pioneer rock and roll singer and a United States Supreme Court judge. A friend or family member received the Medal for each of these men. The award brought joy, but concerning Babe Ruth, it was wondered, why it took so long. "The Babe" died 70 years ago.
The other four who were recognized for their life accomplishments were Alan Page, Roger Staubach, Miriam Adelson and Orrin Hatch. Two stand-out football players, a doctor and a prominent United States Senator. In addition to his football career, Alan Page is also a retired Minnesota Supreme Court judge. Talk about seven very different lives. Yet, each one was deemed worthy of the honor by the President. Since President Kennedy began making these awards, each president has made his own choices to receive this great honor.
Even being honored doesn't occur without pain or controversy. For example, Alan Page received his medal with a very heavy heart, his wife having died of breast cancer only seven weeks ago. Some people thought Elvis Presley's being honored set a poor example citing racism. Others said that Presley was truly beloved by all groups and that he brought people together.
Isn't that how it goes in a world where we have none to honor but flawed people and no one to honor them but someone who is also flawed? Therefore, even joyful celebrations portray the brokenness of our world, and even noteworthy people are loved by some and vilified by others.
Honors come after death and even joyful times are marred by pain, and only a few are ever honored.
As I thought about this special ceremony, it made me ponder another very different celebration, one that will occur at the time of the Lord's choosing. It will be a time of honoring and I and every other person who has put his or her trust in Jesus' finished work, John 19:30, will be there. Each person who will be there will be flawed, but praise be to the Lord, every sin that any of us has ever committed will be erased from our records because of the Savior's gift, Psalm 103:12; Colossians 1:13-14; 1 John 2:1-2. Therefore, since we have been so marvelously rescued, why will we also be honored, and Who will honor us?
Our scripture readings from 1 Corinthians 3:5-15; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 give us the joyous answer.
First, we will be honored for our faithfulness to the Lord, 1 Corinthians 4:1-2. I'm so thankful His well-done doesn't come as a result of a list of desired outcomes and successful endeavors for the Lord. As nice as it might be to have such accomplishments, many unknown but faithful people would be left out of the joy of this special time. The Lord will take in account even small acts done for His honor, Matthew 10:42. Many people who are unknown here will share joy with others who were prominent. I need to stop here to say that I can't even imagine how God will reward our faithfulness and what it will look like. I have studied different opinions on this subject, and I am still ignorant. Yet, what could be more tender than the Creator/Redeemer's smile, given to us because of the times we wanted to bring Him glory and therefore faithfully lived with that in mind?
Second, we will be honored by the One Who knows our hearts, 1 Samuel 16:7; Jeremiah 17:10. Shelia Walsh once said that a precious truth that impacted her life was the knowledge that the One Who knew her best loved her the most. How wondrous to be honored by the All-knowing Lord, Psalm 139:1-12. Any president, no matter how diligently he looks into the honoring of a man or woman can know the motives of his heart. If being honored here is special and it is, how much more precious is it to be spoken well of by the Lord. In 1 Corinthians 4, Paul says that he doesn't even completely know even his own heart. I wonder then how many surprises there will be on that day of celebration that is to come. It is likely that some things we don't even recall will be honored by God and others that we truly thought had motives that were pristine will be burned up. In any case, what remains to be rewarded will truly bring us joy.
Third, no one who belongs to Jesus, John 1:11-12 will fail to receive honor. I love those two words "each one". We will each be honored and each have joy on that day, 1 Corinthians 4:5.
No one will receive his honor posthumously because we will be more alive than we are, even here and now. Think of Moses and Elijah as they talked with Jesus before His crucifixion, Matthew 17:1-8.
Lord, when we enjoy a time of someone's being honored on earth, remind us that these celebrations are simply a foretaste of what is to come!