The recent Academy Awards gala reminded me of the time George C. Scott turned down an Oscar for his commanding performance of General George S. Patton in 1970. It wasn’t the first time he rebuffed the golden statue. In 1962, Scott refused a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his role of a streetwise gambler in The Hustler. The outspoken actor explained that he didn’t mind private congratulations from friends and colleagues, but felt that the politics surrounding the Academy Awards were “demeaning.” He also branded the Oscar ceremony as a “two-hour meat parade.” (Movie fans who hold down day jobs surely wish it would go back to a two-hour format).
Scott’s rejection of the Oscar seems as strange now as it did in decades past. In Hollywood, the coveted gold statue means fame, glory, honor—and increased offers. What some actors work for years to gain, Scott turned down in a moment.
When Jesus launched his public ministry, the people heaped praises on him. The Nazarene healed the sick, opened blind eyes, fed a teeming throng with the paltry contents of a boy’s lunch pail. But on the heels of His miracle-working ministry came hard words; strange invitations to eat His flesh, take up a cross and accept Him as God’s equal. Scores of listeners turned away and the Pharisees howled with indignation. How dare a flesh-and-blood man claim sameness with the Great I Am?
John’s Gospel mentions the word “sign” about seven times. A sign is something that points to a greater reality beyond itself. Jesus was a living sign, redirecting the gaze of the people to the gracious God behind the miracles He performed. It couldn’t have been easy, even for Jesus. His human nature had to resist satanic enticements and worldly praises for a greater good—the glorification of the Heavenly Father. “I am not seeking glory for myself,” Jesus asserted (John 8:50).
The limelight is always tempting because it’s warm with flattery and acclaim. But that same light can grow cold as peers rush to mound accolades on a current “Golden Boy” or up-and-coming “It Girl.” Best to stay in the lovelight of God, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Prayer: Father, help me to let my light shine for your glory—not mine.
Reflection Question: What is the difference between genuine encouragement and the praises of men that Jesus condemned?