Abusers and Their Trophies
3 John 1:9 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority.
You have heard me quote this verse before. It is a statement about one of the best examples of an abuser parading as a Christian to be found in the Bible. Diotrephes was all about craving to be first. The big man. The head honcho in the church. Wouldn’t you like to talk to this guy’s wife?
One of the typical ways that I have seen abusers exalt themselves is what I would call the use of trophies. I suppose we should define trophy before telling you what I mean. A trophy is an object that signifies victory. Think about it. Many trophies have very little value in themselves – some are just shined up plastic. And yet they are cherished. Why? Because they are a symbol of victory or achievement. I have one that I have had sitting around the house for, let’s see, 40 years! It has a little marble base and a gold-colored guy on it aiming a handgun. I won it in class #36 of the Oregon Police Academy when I had the top shooting score in my class. Look at me! Yes, I will give you an autograph if I ever meet you.
Now, abusers like trophies. In some cases they see their victim as their trophy – she is a symbol of their conquest. But commonly, abusers present trophies to their victim and children. For example, Jerry does something unusual. He never bothers himself with helping around the house, but this evening he has stopped at the grocery store on the way home from work and picked up a bag of groceries. When he gets home, he comes through the door, and the trophy ceremony begins. Jerry has “bagged” himself and the family, food. He has ventured into the aisles of the Piggly Wiggly and snagged a few items. Now, the selections he made are often stupid – twinkies (I like them too), a can of condensed milk, some Milky Way bars, and a frozen pizza. But Jerry’s intent is to use his prize as a means to be exalted, much as a gold-medal winner at the Olympics might be. The whole family must stop everything and praise Jerry as he makes his announcement, or there will be a serious debt to pay to the lower regions.
Here is another example. Randy knows nothing about fishing. He doesn’t care to take the time and effort to learn, although if he did, he could really spend some great time with his children. But one summer his family was invited by some friends to go camping at the lake. During the vacation, the hosts set their boat up, rig up all the fishing rods, bait all the hooks, hand everyone their rod, and begin trolling the lures through the lake. Suddenly, Randy shouts he’s got one. He begins to reel (after bumbling around and figuring out that is what the crank thing on the reel is for), not playing the fish at all, and hoists it into the boat. It is a fine 10 incher. Randy holds it up, insists that everyone look at it, loudly reminds his children that he has landed the first fish, then hands it off to his host to take the hook out. If Randy’s children and especially his wife do not drop all they are doing and praise him, once again that evening Randy is going to exact a price from them. Randy’s trophy WILL be honored. Randy will honored.
Randy will never see the kingdom of God. Randy claims to be a Christian, but Randy only worships himself. In the end, it will be Randy who has hell to pay. Or rather, Randy will pay God – because the wages of sin is death. Randy’s trophies won’t help him an iota on the day he stands before Christ.