Intersection of Life and Faith

What Does It Mean to Be a Trophy of Grace?

  • David Sanford Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2020 7 Sep
senior man outdoors gazing in deep thought wondering

In his book What Good Is God: In Search of a Faith That Matters, Philip Yancey says, “We are all trophies of God’s grace.” I wholeheartedly agree.

So what is Yancey talking about when he says that Jesus came for the sick and sinners to make things new? What does it mean to be a trophy of grace? And how does it happen for some “more dramatically” than others?

Let’s look at some famous and not-so-famous biblical characters to better understand this term “trophy of grace” so that we, too, can (as Yancey encourages) go forth “more committed than ever to nourish the souls who you touch.”

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What Is a Trophy of Grace?

Think of all the names listed in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, and David.

To one degree or another, each of these biblical heroes exemplifies one of my favorite Bible verses about trophies of grace. Not surprisingly, it’s found near the top of the Hall of Faith chapter:

Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek himHebrews 11:6

Here’s what we learn from Hebrews 11:6 about trophies of grace. All of them:

1. Have faith.

2. Believe in God.

3. Want to be a man or woman of God.

4. Believe God rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

5. Do whatever it takes to earnestly seek God, often courageously.

6. Bring honor, glory, and praise to God.

One of my other favorite Bible verses about trophies of grace says:

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:10

So, in addition to the Hebrews’ “hall of famers,” think of biblical people such as Rebekah, Abigail, Jael, Huldah the prophetess, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Elizabeth, Anna the prophetess, Joseph the adopted father of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Susanna, the thief on the cross, Philip, Dorcas, Barnabas, Aquila, Luke, Eunice, Lois...and many others.

Here’s what we learn from Ephesians 2 about trophies of grace. They are:

1. Saved by God’s grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:8).

2. Aren’t saved because of the good works they have done. Instead, it’s all God--through Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection (Ephesians 2:5 and Ephesians 2:9).

3. Are “God’s handiwork, created [new] in Christ Jesus to do good works.” The word “handiwork” can be translated poetry, masterpiece, work of art, workmanship, creative work, creation, making, product of His hand, and “who we are.”

God isn’t still trying to decide how to make us trophies of grace. He decided that before creating the heavens and earth. God fashioned each of us to be a specific, unique trophy of grace.

No two trophies are the same. Amazing!

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What Is Not Required to Be a Trophy of Grace

1. You don’t have to be rich.
 
Instead, a trophy of grace can be wealthy (think Job, king Jehoshaphat, and John Mark’s mother, Mary) or utterly poor (think Jochebed mother of Moses, John the Baptist, and blind Bartimaeus).

2. You don’t need to be famous.
Instead, a trophy of grace can be a household name (think Abraham, Ruth, and David) or almost unknown (Achsah, Hilkiah and Nathanael).

3. You don’t have to be powerful.
A trophy of grace can be close to royalty (think Joseph, Esther, and Mordecai) or virtually powerless (think Hagar, Naomi, and Ruth).

4.  Good looks aren’t prerequisite.
A trophy of grace can be good-looking (think Adam, Eve, and Esther) or plain-looking or unpolished (think Leah, Peninnah, and John the Baptist).

5. You don’t need perfect humility.
 
A trophy of grace may be tempted to be proud and self-centered (think Aaron, Miriam, and Saul) or have no such temptation (think Abel, Ruth, and the Syrophoenician woman).

6. You don’t need to be holier-than-thou.
A trophy of grace may live a life of holiness (think James, John, and Paul) or be rough around the edges (think the Magi, Peter, and Zacchaeus).

7. You’re not required to be exceptionally smart.
 
A trophy of grace might have been top of their class (think Joshua, Joseph Prince of Egypt, and Mary the mother of our Lord) or probably fairly average (think Jephthah, King Saul, and the Bethlehem shepherds).

8. You needn’t be well-connected.
 
A trophy of grace may come from an important family and clan (think Isaac, Jacob and Solomon) or have a pretty obscure background (think Melchizedek, Jabez, and Baruch).

9. You don’t have to be successful.
A trophy of grace may have the Midas touch (think Abraham, David, and Jonah) or produced zero results (think Elihu, Jeremiah, and Gehazi).

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10. Notoriety isn’t required.
 
A trophy of grace may be infamous (think Samson, Jephthah, and Hosea) or here today and gone tomorrow (think Jairus, Joseph of Arimathea, and Simon of Cyrene).

11. You don’t have to be ‘perfect.’
 
I reviewed the Who’s Who of the Bible in Hebrews 11. Only one (Daniel) could be considered practically perfect. Most major Bible characters had obvious flaws, weaknesses, and failings (think Samuel, Saul, and Asa).

12. You don’t need to be applauded or appreciated.
 
A trophy of grace may have been applauded (think David, Jehoshaphat, and Esther) or reviled (think Job, Jehonadab, and king Manasseh). A trophy of grace may have been praised across the empire (think Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) or today all but ignored (think Eliphaz, Bildah, and Zopher).

13. Confidence isn’t required.
 
A trophy of grace may have been quite confident (think David, Nehemiah, and Daniel) or overly cautious and concerned (think Gideon, Barak, and Thomas).

14. You don’t have to be a perfect pray-er.
 
A trophy of grace may be noted for their prayers (again think David, Nehemiah, and Daniel) or noted for their lack of faith-filled praying (think Gideon, Zechariah father of John the Baptist, and Rhoda).

15. Being a Bible teacher isn’t a must.
 
A trophy of grace may have risen to this lofty distinction (think Ezra, King Josiah, and Priscilla) or never seen a page of the Bible (think Noah, Abraham, and Rahab).

16. You may not be a warrior.
A trophy of grace may have been brave and courageous (think Deborah, David, and Jonathan) or someone rather timid (think Barak, Gideon, and Timothy).

18. You can even have bad luck.
 
A trophy of grace may have been at the right place at the right time (think Rahab, the Magi, and the Syrophoenician woman) or never heard opportunity knock (think Job, Hannah, and Hosea).

Faith, trust, and belief in God’s handiwork. Are you willing to give yourself in this way to God? He sees you as a trophy of His grace.

Encouraging Bible Verses

For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. – 2 Chronicles 16:9

Since your love for me is constant and endless, I ask you, Lord, to finish every good thing that you’ve begun in me. – Psalm 138:8 TPT

Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:58

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. – Colossians 3:23-24 ESV

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/thodonal


headshot of David Sanford new 2020David Sanford‘s book and Bible projects have been published by Zondervan, Tyndale, Thomas Nelson, Doubleday, Barbour, and Amazon. His next book is Life Map Devotional for Men due out concurrently with his wife’s next book, Life Map Devotional for Women.




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