I was watching old home videos recently and came across one of my younger brother taking his first steps. In the video, I was about four years old. As soon as he took that first step, I yelled to my parents, “He’s doing it!” Then, as my parents began to praise him, I suddenly realized I was no longer the center of attention and proceeded to push my wobbling brother to the side so I could run across the room and do a cartwheel.
Watching that video is slightly mortifying, but I remember that feeling so well. I went from “Yay, my brother is walking!” to “Wait a minute… It’s not that big of a deal. I can do that, too, but nobody is praising me. In fact, I can do it even better. Where is my applause?”
We had a similar situation when my nephew was learning to ride his bike a few weeks ago. He tried several times, coming away with a few successes and a few scrapes. My niece wanted to try afterwards, and he handed over the bike with a few words of encouragement. Immediately, she took off, riding the bike perfectly. As their parents cheered, he went and sat on the ground with his head in his hands. “She did it! Wait… It’s not that big of a deal. I was on the bike first, but nobody is praising me. I was the first one to get on it. Where is my applause?”
How often do we do this as Christians? We are so excited when people first come to Christ. “My brother is home!” But what about when we become glory hogs? Have you ever listened to someone share their testimony and felt jealous or critical? “Wait… It’s not that big of a deal. I’ve been through a lot, too, but nobody is praising me. In fact, my testimony is even more powerful. I’ve been a Christian longer. Where is my applause?” I think the enemy loves to convince us that we are competing with each other. The truth is that we are getting credit for Christ’s glory. Jesus gave us His victory.
It reminds me of the older brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. In scripture, the younger brother takes his inheritance and leaves home only to squander everything and face famine. He returns home, with the intention to become a servant in his father’s home, but his father greets him with open arms and throws a celebration in his honor. His brother is angry when he comes home and refuses to participate. I can almost imagine the thoughts running through his head. “My brother is home! But wait…It’s not that big of a deal. I’ve been here all along, but nobody is praising me. In fact, I’ve been even better! I have faithfully served and obeyed my father. Where is my applause?”
In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the father reminds the older son that they should celebrate the return of the younger son because he was lost and is now found. It was a victory for all of them. In the same way, my brother-in-law reminded my nephew that he gave his sister the courage to get on the bike. Her victory was his, too. I think that, especially as Christians, it’s important to remind ourselves of that. My brother’s victory is mine, too, because it brings glory to God.
The picture below was one I snapped of my nephew after he talked to his dad – cheering his sister on as she rode for her finish line.