And the Winner is…

Winning can be an exhilarating experience. Often, winning produces a physical action like shouting or jumping. No matter how big or small, whether it’s winning a game, a prize, or the lottery, we internally rejoice. But what happens when we lose? Losing also results in a physical reaction. Slumped shoulders, pouting, or a fake smile that covers up the angry emotions inside are just a few gestures we witness. While winning brings a sense of pride and joy, losing can make us feel jealous and ashamed.

You can win an argument or you can win a person, but you can’t do both.” – Ronnie Rothe

Too many times we argue about ridiculous topics. We let our disputes and squabbles become great divides that sever our relationships. What may start as a very minor disagreement can end in us being repulsed by one another, competing for a “win” that brings the other person anger or jealousy. We become so engrossed in our own opinions, so obsessed with our own agendas for other people’s lives, that we lose sight of the most important commandment: to love God first, then others.

Matthew 22:34-40 says: “Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’”

The Pharisees were so concerned with perfectly following the Old Testament Laws that they couldn’t wrap their minds around the commandment of love. With evil motives, they intently watched Jesus waiting to trap him, catch him in wrongdoing, anything to prove him a liar. The Pharisees wanted to win. They publicly questioned him and falsely accused him, sentencing Jesus to his gruesome death on the cross. And for three days, the Pharisees thought they had won the argument that this Jesus was just a false prophet. But on that glorious day, when Jesus rose from the dead, he silenced the Pharisees with his selfless, sacrificial love. Jesus didn’t fight back with angry, resentful words that he would someday regret. He fought back with love. A love that killed him, but would pay for the sins of the world.

We are not in a competition with Satan, because Jesus already won! We are, however, commanded to love God and love each other. Loving includes accepting the forgiveness of Jesus for our own sins and extending that forgiveness to those who have wronged us. It includes dying to our own pride and owning up to the wrongs that we have caused others.

This week – Take a moment to reflect on the relationships in your life. Are there arguments you are still trying to win? How can losing that argument help you win over that person? Start by looking in the mirror and asking God to change your heart towards that person. Then GO and DO something to show them the love of Jesus.