2015-09-04 - Winning
Do you ever start a race, hoping to lose? No! We all like to win. I scoured the world to find the best expert on the subject of winning, because I want to know how to win consistently, and I figured it would be something many of you might want to know, as well. I believe I have found such a person, so I'd like to quote a small portion of text from his biography. The writer is clearly famous - since like Madonna, Cher, Prince, and Bono - he only uses one name — Matthew
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:21-23 NKJV)
This section begins from that time. From what time? Well just before this. Peter had recognized that Jesus was in fact the Christ — the Messiah — the Savior. Therefore, we can say, "From the time they seemed to get that he was who he claimed to be, he began to show them what being the savior really meant." To be the world's savior means he must WIN the world. And by his own words, his way of winning consisted of suffering at the hands of the enemy - and in fact, dying. With 2000 years separating us from these statements, the followers of Jesus can make some sense of this idea. But Peter was thinking, "SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! That’s just crazy talk. You ain’t gonna die Jesus — no way!"
And then Jesus says, "Chill Peter!" Actually, Jesus calls Peter Satan and says he's the one not thinking clearly — not thinking like God thinks. Like Peter, you also have to alter your way of looking at things. Your ways are not my ways. Isaiah records, "'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' says the Lord. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways,and My thoughts than your thoughts.'" (Isaiah q55:8-9 xi NKJV)
Now we come to the part of the story where our expert is going to explain his way of thinking, so let us go back to the writing of Matthew, to see how this plays out.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. (Matthew 16:24-27 NKJV)
To save your life, or in other words to win your life, you must lose it. Winning the world’s wealth is a loss, if you lose what really matters. In the end, God wins, and it all just boils down to whose side you are when the game ends.
Winning only the world's wealth is a loss …
I consider myself to be somewhat successful by the world’s standards, so there are people who would look at me and think I have won at life. Externally, they might see a good-looking wife, good kids that aren’t in jail (not yet anyway), a good job making good money, a good house, and reasonably good health. If that is your definition of success, then you may think I’m winning as well, but that is not how I define success, or how I think God defines that.
Here’s how I see that list - God gave me a wife, and I’m ultimately responsible for her, as the spiritual head of our family. HE gave her to me, so I can love her in such a way that she sees his love for his own bride. That's a big responsibility, that I don't always do so very well. Next, God has temporarily entrusted borrow two other souls to my care. I am to raise them to know Him as the ultimate Good Father, by being a good father to them. And again, I don't always succeed at that, but I try. Then God blessed me with a job, so I can bless others. Several years ago, Dana and I got to a point where we figured we had enough, and we began to give the rest away. As raises have come in, we’ve tried to be good stewards, to keep expenses from rising, and have diverted some of that money to various causes we care about. Every week money automatically moves from my account to one marked for God, and it only comes out to do things I think God wants to do with it. Lastly, the good house is nothing, if it's not filled with the noise of laughter and love. Neither furnishings nor square footage are a real win, in the housing market.
Winning only the world's wealth is a loss, but losing to Jesus is a win.
A missionary named Jim Elliot ,who willingly went to a cannibalistic tribe to share about Jesus and lost his life opening the door for others to follow him there, later made the statement: "He is no fool, who gives what he cannot keep, to gain that which he cannot lose." He also said, "God always gives his best to those who leave the choice with him." Give up control, and let God take care of it.
In another text from Matthew, Jesus is talking, and he says God takes care of the needs of the birds and the flowers, so he will take care of you, if you quit worrying about it and let him.
Matthew 6:31-34 (NKJV) 31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
It is okay to surrender, it is okay to lose, and it is okay to give up - as long as you are surrendering to Jesus, losing to God, and giving up, to give it to Him.
There is just one last thing I want you to remember about winning. The odds are ever in your favor. I'm sorry that I had to throw in some kind of teen SCI-FI geek stuff-type of reference, for people like my son and me, but in this case, it is true, if you think about it. In Christ, there is hope. My faith tells me God wins in the end, and that provides real hope, not a wishy-washy kind like "I hope it’s nice this weekend," but a strong, unshakeable kind that tells me if my God is for me, then nothing can stand against me.
If you surrender your life to God and give it all to him, then it is his, and he will not let anything happen that isn’t his will. When something bad happens, tell God how you feel about it. Shout to him about how it is not fair. Pour it all out, but then give control to him, and trust that he knows best! Trust in Him to do what is best. In that, you will find true victory. The secret to winning is that God has already won.
All scripture references from KJV (King James Version) unless otherwise noted