The Badge

by Joanna Pierce on April 03, 2019

I’m brushing up on my foreign language skills and have been completing daily language lessons for about a year. I’m driven to complete daily lessons because I’m pretty determined to sharpen my language skills. I believe God’s going to incorporate them into a future ministry, so I’m preparing now for when I’ll need them later. But, I must confess, I’m also compelled to study by another albeit more embarrassing reason: in-app awards and badges.

At work, I’ve been researching user adoption trends for a while and seeing the buzzword “gamification” pop-up across more articles than I can count. I initially scoffed at the idea of adoption increase of using a product, methodology, etc. just by offering a virtual award that can’t be exchanged for anything tangible. And then I realized my little badges, tracking advancement through my language learning, was the same exact thing.

The more language lessons I complete, the more badges I earn in my app. It’s equivalent to a gold star in preschool, a unit badge in Girl Scouts, or a verbal, “good job” in the workplace. It’s based on my accomplishments, my work, and my effort. That’s a lot of “mys,” right?

If I’m not careful, I’ll catch myself doing this in another area of my life. It’s easy to get caught up doing a work for God and pushing myself to do more for an imaginary badge. We can almost feel justified in our badge-earning when we read the following Scripture:

Also unto You, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work (Psalms 62:12, KJV).

If this doesn’t encourage you to complete more and better works for God’s Kingdom, I don’t know what will. There’s nothing wrong with getting motivated to do a work for God, but we can’t look at it from a badge or gamification perspective.

When I read this verse the other day, I retracted my toes quickly because God’s Word had just stomped all over them. Yes, God will reward us for the work we do on earth for His Kingdom. He’ll look at our obedience and work quality, not the quantity. But, that’s not what the focus of this Scripture is about. Notice how it says, mercy belongs to the Lord? You can pretty much remove mercy and enter in every other word you can think of. Everything belongs to God—all glory, all honor, all praise, all works, all accomplishments, and yes, all imaginary badges.

The truth is, we receive God’s mercy due to our works only because we can’t claim to deserve any award. It’s only by the mercy of God we’re able to do anything for His Kingdom. His grace, strength, and knowledge provides us with the know-how and physical ability. We can’t do anything on our own, and yet He awards us for what we do. How amazing is that?

The word render in Hebrew means amend or complete. Basically, God will amend or complete the work we do, call it done, and then reward us for it. Ouch—that badge we have looks different now, doesn’t it? My language badge isn’t from my doing, it’s God’s. His work to fill in the gaps make it all possible.

It’s very important to think about what’s driving us today; what’s giving us every ability. We must consider if what we’re doing is for the right motives. If we feel what we’ve marked off our list at the end of the day is “earned,” we’re wrong. Our ultimate badge—our crown of glory—is one I pray to lay down at the feet of the rightful owner someday. What about you? Are you ready to play and give every badge away?