May 3, 2020
WINNING BY LOSING
We live in a world where everybody wants to win. I watched the first few episodes of the recent Michael Jordan documentary, “The Last Dance,” and one of the things that jumps right out at you early on, is Jordan’s insatiable desire to win. He could not stand to lose—whether it was basketball, shooting pool, playing cards, or on the golf course. He was driven by a desire to win. I’m sure that Jordan is not alone. No doubt if you were to spend time with other professional athletes, business leaders and entrepreneurs, political leaders, and other successful people, you would probably find in many of them a strong desire to win and to keep winning; some no matter what the cost. The truth is, we all want to win. Nobody wants to lose. Well, here in Matthew 16:25, Jesus essentially says, “You’ve got to lose in order to win. Now, let’s understand the setting wherein Jesus makes this profound statement. Jesus had just told His disciples and others in the crowd, that He was going to Jerusalem, where He would suffer and die… Peter then pulls Jesus aside, protesting, “That can’t happen to You; You need to rebuke that thought!” Jesus turns and admonishes Peter; and then He says, “Whoever desires to save his life will lose it…” First, Jesus is saying to Peter, “I didn’t come to do what was good for Me; I came to do what was good for you.” “I did not come to do My will, I came to do My Father’s will.” “I did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give My life as a ransom for many.” Jesus was also sharing with His disciples what it means to belong to Him, and what it could cost to follow Him. “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Jesus is talking about winning by losing! Jesus is saying that “Winning by losing,” as paradoxical as it may sound, is really how we live lives that are vital, vibrant and victorious from God’s perspective. In order to embrace Jesus’ type of discipleship, first:
You will have to lose your fear of losing. We are taught to view losing as bad or unacceptable. A lot of us are terrified at the thought of losing. In Super bowl LI (51) the Atlanta Falcons had a 28-3 lead over the New England Patriots in the third quarter. And then they changed their style of play. They became conservative in their play calling. All of a sudden they were no longer playing to win, they were playing not to lose. Well, New England came back and won the game 34-28. Here’s my point: You can’t be afraid to lose. “I can’t lose my stuff.” “I can’t lose my job.” “I can’t lose my woman.” “I can’t lose my man.” The truth is: God sees things differently. He blesses us through our losses. Jacob lost his son Joseph for a time, but God returned Joseph to Jacob as a great leader and provider in a time of famine. God can use your losses to bless you. God can use losing to simplify your life. He can use losing to focus your life. He can use losing to purify your life. If you want God’s best for your life, you need to lose your fear of losing. “Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake…”
You must lose the desire to be in control of your life. Look closely at the text: “Whosoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Jesus offers two choices. You can live life as you see fit, on your own terms. You can be your own boss. You can call the shots, you can come up with your own plans and then try to work your plans; but in the end you will lose your life. The other choice Jesus offers is: To commit your life to Him. You can deny your own will, and surrender to His will. Let Him be your Boss. That involves dying to self, daily, as you take up the cross and follow Him (v.24). The Lord wants you to stop trying to control your own destiny, but to let Him direct you. If you trust your life to Him, you won’t lose your life!
It is those who give all who will get all in the end. When Jesus says, “…but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it,” He’s referring to those who have discovered their true purpose for living, and that is giving their lives in service to Christ, not living for themselves. Jesus makes it clear that following Him involves risking it all: Safety, security, satisfaction in this world and life. But He promises that in His economy, those who give all will get all in the end; not those who live for this life, but those who give up their lives for My sake. The losers will be the winners. How many losers are watching to today? Thank God that you are a loser! You’re not alone.
Jesus, by the world’s standards was also a loser!
When Jesus went to the cross and died for our sins, He won through losing!
Jesus didn’t take power, He gave it up—and then He got up!
Paul said, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus!