There is a television program called “The Biggest Loser”. The premise of the show is a group of extremely overweight people compete to see which one of them will loose the most weight over the course of several weeks. It may be the only time in western culture in which the winner is actually the one who lost the most. Yet even in this show the winner is really the one who did better than everyone else in reaching the goal. The folks who did not “win” because they had not “lost” enough weight are still considered “losers”.
We only cheer for the winner. No one wants to be on the losing end. In the open to the movie “Patton”, George C. Scott is playing World War 2 General George S. Patton and he is giving a speech that is pure “Patton”. A line in that speech says “Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. I wouldn’t give a hoot in Hell for a man who lost and laughed.” I suspect that what is true for Americans in Patton’s speech is true for people around the world. Just look at how people react to things like the Olympics or better yet, The World Cup. We go crazy for winners and are embarrassed by losers.
So how crazy and provocative is it that the Bible encourages us to be on the losing end of things? In his first letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul was dealing with a situation in the church in which fellow Christians were taking one another to court and filing law suits against each other. Paul was outraged by this. How in the world was it possible that people who were supposed to be family in Christ were unable to be reconciled and allowed issues of money to divide the body? He puts it this way: “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.” 1 Corinthians 6:7
What Paul is saying is that the unity of the Body of Christ as well as our witness to the world, is far more important that any monetary victory or any emotional victory that we might achieve by taking another Christian to court. It would be far better to be cheated out of something that you rightfully deserve than to ask the secular court to settle a dispute between two Christians. It would be better for you to be cheated out of something than for Christ to be cheated out of the glory that He is due. Whenever Christians are unwilling to reconcile, whenever we are unwilling to suffer wrong for the sake of Jesus, then we are the cheaters. We have cheated Jesus out of His glory and honor. We have defiled His name for our own benefit. That is scandalous in the eyes of Paul. It would be far better for us to be seen by the world as being a big loser, then for Jesus to be discredited.
That is a hard pill for us to swallow. The reason being is that our pride gets in the way. We become overly concerned about our reputation and forget about the reputation of Jesus. I have been in the position of having to decide to be a loser for the sake of Jesus. Years ago I was on the staff of a church where I eventually became the pastor. While I was on staff the vast majority of the congregation, over 95%, decided that they needed to leave the denomination they were connected to and align with another group. The decision was based on some serious theological differences. The group that voted to change was certain that they had every legal right to keep the building and property of the church. The 5% who disagreed filed a lawsuit to keep the building for themselves. In obedience to 1 Corinthians 6:7, we handed over the keys of the building and walked away from a church building that was only 10 years old. It was a very difficult decision for many people. But it is one that had to be made if we were going to be faithful to God’s Word. The short version of the rest of the story is that God honored that decision and made it possible for that church to eventually purchase 12 acres in a better location and see the ministry grow from under 200 people to over 700 in just a few years.
Not every case of being a loser for Jesus will result in such tangible blessings from God. But that is not the point. The reason for being willing to be wronged for Jesus is so that His name is not defiled for the sake of our pride.