Anyone hear about Steve Harvey’s big mistake he made recently hosting the Miss Universe Pageant? Normally I would never even know that a beauty pageant even happened except that poor Steve Harvey became a social media meme that was hard to miss. If you didn’t hear about it, he accidentally read the runner up off his card as the winner. All the fanfare happened, they gave the runner-up the flowers and the crown, but then when he realized his mistake he had to make it right. Very embarrassing obviously.

I have to admit that like everyone (nearly everyone?) else I enjoyed watching the replay on youtube. But why do we enjoy that kind of thing so much? I think we enjoy it because it helps us feel better about our own failings. Too often we feel good about ourselves by elevating ourselves over others. This kind of thinking is so dumb, and yet we do it all the time!

Here are some of the reasons why it so dumb…

  • His mistake wasn’t that big of a deal compared to my junk! Who wouldn’t trade their junk (e.g. far less than ideal husband, father, friend, etc.) for the embarrassment of Steve Harvey’s mistake? He failed publicly and for one week will be laughed at by the Internet. But what is worse, what he did or what I do every day? We are like people who live at a garbage dump and feel cleaner because we live farther up the refuse pile. 
  • I have made a trade, a far better one! The truth is that in Christ I have made the trade, but instead of just getting better junk I get perfection. I gave Jesus my sin and he gave me his righteousness. #winning
  • Failure Culture vs. Grace Culture. Why would I want to go back to a system of Karma when I’ve got Grace at my fingertips? “1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1-4 ESV).

There is a really good article on this over at Desiring God that you should read. Here is a particularly strong part:

I find something beautiful in last night’s debacle. God can make a mockery of our attempts for flawless pageantry and demonstrate he is the only one worthy to wear the crown. But it doesn’t stop there. In Christ, he gives us that crown. Jesus gives us his righteous life in exchange for our guilt, shame, and sin. Christians can have solid, secure, and foundational joy in that.

In Christ’s grace, there is no first runner up, there are no crowns taken away, and there are no more scorecards. We have a perfect host that speaks righteousness over us by our unbreakable union with him, the righteous one. He declares us to be secure in our position as sons and daughters.

The pressure is off to be perfect, no matter how big the stage. We only need to own our weakness and utter reliance on God’s grace to empower us to be increasingly like his Son.

O, what joy is in the gospel to be free from a failure culture! O, what joy there is to know we have a substitute even when we blow our second chances. Steve Harvey, please understand this: There is a place where mistakes aren’t fatal. Failure isn’t final. Grace is forever. Good news, everyone: There is grace for failures — not in the news media, but in the risen Lord of the universe.

Go read the whole article and let’s live in God’s culture, a culture of grace!