"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going." (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
It seems that more and more our society wants to tiptoe around the feelings of those who fail to meet a designated set of criteria. In other words, it no longer matters if your team scores the most points in the game, what matters is that you showed up at all. If you want to be in the Boy Scouts, you no longer have to be a boy. In fact, let's just change the name to "Scouts" so that nobody is offended. I even read a story today about a policy that allows anyone trying out for the cheer squad to automatically make the team!
This "everyone gets a trophy" mentality throws the whole concept of pushing oneself to be the best at any given thing out the window. In fact, it throws out the need for any kind of effort or hard work at all! Why should I make the effort to gain more knowledge, run faster, push harder, or be more accurate if the result will be the same without it?
I was thinking about all this from a spiritual standpoint and a couple of things came to mind:
None of us deserve to make the team - Once we are old enough to grasp the concept of good and evil, sadly, we all follow in the footsteps of our ancestors and fall short of the glory of God. In other words, we sin. (Deuteronomy 1:39; Romans 3:23; 5:12; 1 John 3:4)
God loves everyone, but we must respond to His grace with faith - John 3:16 makes very plain that God loves the entirety of mankind. Peter said that He is patient with us because his desire is that none should perish! (2 Peter 3:9) That same verse reveals something else, too, though. God's desire is that "all should come to repentance." Paul said that we are "justified by faith" and that it is by faith that we have access to stand in God's grace. (Romans 5:1-2) The Hebrew writer stated that "without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6) You might notice that faith is described as more than just belief. It is also action! It is obedience! It is effort! (James 2:26) Jesus Himself stated that "he who believes and is baptized will be saved, and he who does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:16)
We must run with endurance if we are to obtain the prize - Jesus said that we must "bear fruits worthy of repentance" in Matthew 3:8. In other words, we must continually demonstrate our conversion and faith in the Lord; prove by our actions that we have made a change of direction in our lives! Note the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27:
"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified."
Being baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:27) does not guarantee our "place on the team." We must continue to live faithfully; even unto death. (Revelation 2:10) Paul recognized that if he did not discipline his body, that, despite teaching others the correct way to walk, he himself could become lost for all eternity.
In conclusion then...
The "everyone gets a trophy" mentality is foreign to the word of God. Yes, God WANTS everyone to be saved, but we must render obedience to His Son if we want to obtain the prize. And the prize is worthy of our very best effort!
"And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him..." (Hebrews 5:9)
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." (Romans 12:1)
"And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." (Revelation 21:4)