A Friendly Game of Cards

Humility, Judgment, Grace and Hope sat around a table playing poker.  It was a high stakes game.  Hope opened with a kind word, Humility self-deprecated (folded), Judgment raised both an eyebrow and an indelicate issue, and Grace called.  Hope, as usual tried to draw to an inside straight, Humility buried a pair of twos, Judgment bluffed, and Grace produced a full house.

Judgment: You know, this is a stupid game.  No one ever really wins.  We just keep taking one another’s money.

Hope:  Ah, but one of us might win big.  You never can tell.  We have to keep trying.

Judgment:  Yeah, you keep telling yourself that.

Grace:  This isn’t about winning or losing.  This is about staying at the table — not giving up.

Humility:  Yes, it’s about playing the game well.

Judgment:  No, it’s about winning.  There’s no reason to play if you don’t win.

Hope:  But not everyone CAN win.  I’m glad one of us doesn’t walk away with all the chips.

Judgment:  Look, I would walk away in a minute if I cleaned you out.  That’s why I am here — to clean house.

Grace:  But if you did that, who would you have left to play with?

Judgment:  Who cares?  I would have it all.

Humility:  I don’t want it all.  I am just glad to be here with you all.

Hope:  Yeah, it’s much better having us all here.  It’s more fun this way.

Judgment:  Oh come on, this isn’t about fun.  I’m out for blood.  I don’t care who I take down.

Grace:  Nice attitude.  If I won, I’d give you your money back.  I gain nothing by making you suffer.

Judgment:  Wimp.  Life is suffering.  There are winners and losers, right and wrong, good and bad.  Winners are good, loser are… losers.

Humility:  But winning doesn’t make you better than others, just more fortunate.

Judgment:  You keep telling yourself that. 

Hope:  No, really.  You may have a run of luck — you may even be good at cards.  That doesn’t make you better than the rest of us.

Judgment:  Sounds like loser talk to me.  Helloooo!!!  I am judgment.  It’s what I do!

Grace:  But why?  Why is it so important to you to act superior to others?  What makes you think judging is somehow better than forgiveness or acceptance?

Judgment:  Why bother playing the game if there aren’t consequences?  If I can’t gain something by playing better than everyone else, why waste my time?  I WANT to be better than others.

Humility:  I don’t!  I find something of value in everyone else… even you (gesturing at Judgment).  I don’t want to be better than other people.

Hope:  And I don’t see any value in making people feel like dirt.  Why crush people’s spirits by condemning and shaming them?

Judgment:  If they don’t play the game by the rules, they should be ashamed.  Actions have consequences.  Winners deserve rewards.  Losers deserve what they get.

Grace:  But that’s crazy.  Lots of people get what they don’t deserve — good and bad.  We are all in the same boat.

Judgment:  Yes.  A sinking boat.  And we need to decide who should survive and who we can sacrifice.  I say, to the victor goes the spoils.  There is nothing to be gained by saving the weak and the poor and the less skilled.

Hope:  What a delightful outlook.  Charming.  What about those who simply hit a run of bad luck?  Those who lose a few hands at a bad time.

Judgment:  If they are afraid of losing, they shouldn’t play.  There are no guarantees.  But I still say, back the winners.  It’s safer.

Humility:  What gives you the right to say that because a person just wants to play, that isn’t a good enough reason to consider them a winner.

Judgment:  Give me a break!  There is no way you can make everyone a winner.  That’s stupid.  I for one don’t want to be seen associating with a bunch of losers.  It’s bad for my image.

Grace:  Well, thanks for associating with us.  We wouldn’t want to tarnish your image.

Judgment:  Hey, I enjoy hanging out with you.  You all make me feel better about myself.  By comparison, I look really good.

Humility:  What do you mean by that?

Judgment:  Just that you have really low standards.  You’ll accept anybody.  You make no distinctions.  You treat everyone, good or bad, just the same.  You’re so heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good.  Me?  My cloud of witnesses is righteous.  Sinners need not apply.

Grace:  Great.  So your idea of heaven is a whole lot of people just like you?

Judgment:  Could be a whole lot worse.  At least in my heaven it will be clean, quiet, civilized and smell good.  Okay, whose deal?

Categories: Devotional Reflection

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8 replies

  1. Okay, this is unusual. I kind of like it. I think. I’m not sure. I am kind of literal minded, so help me here. This is saying the church is too judgmental, and that we should be offering more grace, hope, and humility? If you are saying that, I totally agree. Am I just stating the obvious?

    • Scott, if it isn’t obvious to you, it probably isn’t obvious to many… but you nailed it. Judgment only can take us so far; without humility, grace, and hope we’re all losers.

      • Thanks. If being humble, hopeful, and filled with grace makes us losers, then let’s be the very best losers we can be! I don’t always agree with everything you say, but you do offer some very creative ways of saying things. Keep it up.

  2. Could I have permission to reprint this with my creative writing class? We have been talking about writing about our faith in fiction. This is an interesting approach, and an example of one way to raise faith questions in a fictional form.

  3. You know, I keep thinking about this. Would it be alright forme to use this as a skit on a Sunday morning? I can see building a message off of the struggle between grace and judgment. This could be very ccol as a skit.

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