Eighty percent. What is significant about the number 80? It is said that 80% of all the athletes competing in any given Olympics have absolutely no mathematical possibility of ever winning a medal. That is four out of every five athletes competing have no possible chance of ever winning against the one athlete who is far better trained or perhaps given the better opportunity for success because of the resources provided by his or her native country.
Olympic athletes may be all fairly comparable in talent and potential. But because of better training facilities and cash-enriched sports programs one athlete in five is given an advantage over the others who did not enjoy such “gold-gloved” treatment.
In the world of sports and in other competitive arenas participants are judged against the clock, the numbers “put up on the board” or from distant judges who tabulate performance metrics by what their eye can see.
But, God sees things differently. He sees things that go deeper than just surface skin, outward performance, scoreboards and scorecards. God sees the heart. The scales of judgement and scorekeeping in God’s kingdom are not based on what happens “to” us, “through” us, or “by” is, but rather what happens “in” us. These things are captured in agencies beyond the realm of the natural eye.
The gold medals awarded in His kingdom go to those who are maybe not the fastest, the most talented, the best looking, the most healthy, the most intelligent, the most resourceful, the most “connected” or the most charismatic.
God’s gold goes to those whose heart is right with Him, with their neighbor and with themselves. Those who have “made themselves ready”. Those who love the Lord with all the heart, mind soul and strength:
Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
What Motivates Me?
Being aware of this 80% phenomenon does not stop the athletes from less economically prosperous countries from proudly carrying their flag and marching into the opening Olympic ceremony in unison to represent their native country. Does it really matter to them that they are labeled amongst the 80%? Do they give up or put forth a half-hearted effort just because nothing short of a miracle will send them back home with a medal?
One overlooked fact is these athletes represent the best of their country and are the elite for their respective area of discipline. Without their representation their country would be forgotten, unnoticed, and forever undocumented as having participated in any given Olympic event.
Could it be that God’s method of judging is not based on performance but on motivation? God is a righteous judge. He sees everything. Nothing escapes Him. He sees who shows up or not (and the condition of our heart when we do!). He sees the opportunities we have been given and the degree to which those opportunities have been capitalized on. He also sees the stumbling blocks and hindrances and road-bumps hindering the journey and the opportunities squandered due to neglect or loss of passion.
What motivates my “going for the gold”? Is my motivation in “living for God” derived from family expectations? Is it to not let the program down (so to speak)? Or is it to escape from going to hell? Is that it, just to selfishly save my own hide from eternal banishment? Or maybe the motivation behind my Christian confession of faith is to soothe my conscience. My appearance on Sunday is the silver bullet to get me through another week of mulling over feelings of guilt, sins, failures or mistakes.
A writer who penned the following thought so succinctly describes the essence of the whole matter:
“The motivation of a man’s life determines his worth“.
Motivation. It is all about motivation. Jesus stressed motivation. His apostles stressed motivation as being the determiner, the litmus test to make heaven’s award ceremony. Here are some examples:
1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25:35-36, 40
Okay, I’m An Eighty-Percent’er, Now What Do I Do?
You have read the facts, heard the rumors and overheard the grapevine and it is confirmed you are definitely not in the 20% upper echelon. Now what? The question to ask is: What nation or what people group am I representing? Are you representing an ancestry peppered with broken marriages, drug addiction, criminal acts, alcoholism or eating disorders? Or maybe your lineage is laced with mental or physical hereditary illnesses/ diseases, infidels, unbelievers, anger issues, compulsive behavior, infidelity or lust. What does Jesus have to say about it:
John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
If so, keep walking for God. Hold the banner of faith, godliness, humility, truth and God’s love high and march on.
Show up at the opening ceremony of God’s grace and mercy awaiting you each and every morning and let God work out the details. You are standing in the gap for those who are depending not on your performance, but on your passion, on your pure motivation and not your accumulation of earthly medals.
It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. I Peter 5:7
After a vexing day at work, school or the cares of managing a home and family it might take all of your strength to practice a musical instrument till midnight to the point of competence and near mastery. It consumes what remains of your stamina to pray and study scriptures to assemble a meaningful Bible or Sunday school lesson. The remaining embers of energy left at the day’s end may be exhausted by visiting a sick or needy family member or friend.
If it is all done for the glory of God then so what? He deserves the glory for it all anyway and it is God alone who will be handing out the medals for the Olympians of His kingdom:
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Philippians 2:13
And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. Revelation 21:6-7