I was teaching a <rather> competitive class of 4th thru 6th graders in our Wednesday night church program this last week when I was met head-on with the very real phenomenon of this current 'everybody wins' culture. We had been playing what amounted to an elementary version of The $10,000 Pyramid (an oldie but a goodie) with 2 teams; and, as all competitions tend to have... there was a winning team and a losing team. You know? Like has been for thousands of years... WINNERS and LOSERS. Before we started I had promised (bribed?) the class that the winning team would get ring pops when the game was over. Obviously with such a prize on the line this was serious business. And they took it seriously too. Holy moly these kids were ruthless! In an attempt to enable the teams the ability to give grace, there were multiple instances where the answer to the question was not <quite> right but was pretty close- in these circumstances I made the team unanimously decided whether to bestow a point to the other team or not.
In one instance Team 1 decided to give Team 2 the point.
Later Team 1 lost.
And just a bit of chaos ensued. The vast majority of the team 1 members were mad they lost, and even more furious that they had given that extra point to the opposing team... a point, that in the end caused them to lose. I had every. single. teammate. come up to me within the next 20 mins and ask for a ring pop too.
"Can't we all just have a ring pop?"
It became somewhat comical the line of 'broken hearts' that followed me around.
Because I'm mean, I told every single one of them "No." No, children, you CAN'T all have a ring pop. The rules were set at the beginning, you knew what they were, you played the game, you lost. You don't get a ring pop. They were scandalized that I would deny them the prize (and I'm not entirely sure there aren't a couple still mad at me...)
But, as I stated, I'm mean. I laid out the rules and I kept my promise in upholding them.
As a mom of three under four I am increasingly alarmed by our culture of 'everybody wins', 'everybody gets a prize', 'participation awards for everyone!' I fear that we are setting our kids, our teams, all the next generations for absolute spiritual failure. ETERNAL FAILURE PEOPLE! I'm talking HELL here....
This is not simply we're raising generations of soft people, or that they're weak, or that no one has a back-bone or knows the meaning of hard work. No, this is MUCH deeper and the root of WHY we can't allow this culture of prizes to continue.
Because the cold, hard truth is that God doesn't give out participation awards, He doesn't give second place, He's not planning on changing the rules of heaven and hell.
We either play by the rules He's set and go to heaven
or we go to hell.
It's that simple.
We can't all get a ring pop if we're on the losing team.
I know it sounds harsh, it's sounds judgmental, I'm sure I'll get some flack for writing about this. But scripture is clear dear ones! There are rules, a way to 'win' and a way to 'lose'. There is no in-between. There is heaven and there is hell.
Romans 3:23 ...for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Romans 6:23 ...for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.
You see what the Bible is doing here? It's laying out the rules of the 'game' the rules of our eternal life. It tells us how to win.
Romans 5;8 But God demonstrates His own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 10:9-10 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
Romans 10:13 ...for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
The really nice thing here is that EVERYONE can be on the winning team. It's simply a CHOICE to be on it!
But stay with me here, I want to speak to why it's so dangerous if our children and these generations of 'everybody's a winner' don't get a clear message from us. Be perpetuating this fallacy, we encourage the idea that people will eventually get the reward, even just for showing up or for simply participating IN the game; that at the very least there's a door prize at the end. That's simply not true when eternal consequences are at stake.
God doesn't give participation points.
Sitting in church, doing good deeds, volunteering to worthy causes, living a 'good' life, giving that extra point to the other team to be nice- they don't count towards getting into heaven. They just don't.
Showing up doesn't count.
Participation doesn't count.
Matthew 7:13-14 Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
We have to show our children that playing by the rules and making the decision to choose the right team (eternally) is of utmost importance, that losing will have some fallout, that not everyone can be a winner all the time necessarily. These lessons can have eternal ramifications! We have to exemplify and model that there are consequences to losing (we can only hope it's as minor as losing out on a ring pop!) (And also keep in mind that on this side of heaven there are some GREAT lessons to be learned in the face of loss!) There are times when we don't get the prize- no matter how hard we worked for it or practiced or played. There is always fallout from losing- whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.
There will be a time when God will judge us and either see Christ, His Son, in us or not. He's made it easy, He's told us which side to choose, He's laid out the rules crystal-clearly, there's (thankfully) no practice-makes-perfect involved. It's simply a gift and there's NO losing on God's side!
And THAT, dear ones, is the ultimate win. The ultimate prize. The ultimate ring-pop!
BUT we had to have played by the rules and picked the winning side.
So parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, and neighbors- don't give out the ring pops to everyone. Let your children fail and feel the consequences (no matter how light or harsh) because in the end, their eternities will be molded by letting them feel and see the results of the games they play- the winning and the losing. Each has it's own lesson to learn; and those lesson will follow them into eternity.
Thank you for taking the time to read my heart today. Please comment below with thoughts and ruminations of where your walk is today. Please share and follow if this blesses you!