There is no doubt about it: Christians are winners. We thank and praise God “who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). The Book of Revelation shows clearly that those who faithfully follow the Lamb-Lion-King will overcome, just as He overcame. We take comfort in knowing that by faith we overcome the world and are on “the winning side” (1 John 5:4).
While our victory in Jesus motivates us to serve, there are some ways, however, in which it is proper to think of Christians as losers. That sounds like a contradiction, does it not? How can saints of God be losers if they overcome through the Christ?
Consider this. Being a child of God does not exempt us from losing some things. Losing material objects happens to everybody. Like everyone else in the world, I lose things, don’t you? Some materials losses are serious, whereas others are minimal. As we grow older, our physical body begins to lose things. We lose some of our hair, we lose energy, we lose our hearing, our eyesight, and our memory. Ah, the joys of the aging process. Followers of Jesus go through it just like non-Christians do.
Sometimes members of the church lose their jobs, just like non-saints do. It happens. Since death comes to all (Hebrew 9:27), we also go through the pain of losing our loved ones and close friends. That is just part of life, whether we follow Jesus or not.
There is a more positive, pleasant side of the losing that Christians do. When we are devoted to the Master, we lose our own life. What in the world does that mean? Let us compare two statements that Jesus made [all emphasis in the verses below is mine, rdc]. First, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (Luke 9:23,24). Again, “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25).
As these verses show, Jesus spoke about a person loving his life and trying to save it. On the other hand, He talked about a person hating his life – that person saves his life and keeps it for eternal life. When a person comes to and follows Jesus, he must deny himself. In repentance, he gives up the old life that he had outside of the Christ. What matters most is no longer one’s own personal desires. No longer does a person think that the world revolves around him. No longer does he do as he pleases. That old man, with all of his self-indulging, self-interests, and self-loving, must die (Romans 6:3-6). As one that is “renewed in the spirit” of the mind (Ephesians 4:23), a disciple of Jesus “loses” the old thinking, the old lifestyle, and the old speech habits. He hates that life and he now elevates Jesus and His Cause to the number one position in his heart. And what is the promised reward for such a dedicated life? Eternal life (John 12:26). I am happy to be “a loser” if the crown of life waits at the end of the journey!
The Lord wants us to lose our love for sin and the world. As His disciples, we have a new and different appetite than we had before. The world should not have the same appeal that it did in the past. The apostle Paul was a transformed loser – he had lost his appetite for what the world offered: “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14). The Bible’s message is clear. God tells His children not to love the world (1 John 2:15), not to imitate the world (Romans 12:2), not to be contaminated or spotted by the world (James 1:26), and not to be the friends of the world (James 4:4). That can be a mighty struggle. No, it is not always easy to win the battle over unhealthy desires, but the Spirit’s charge is for every child of God to “abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11). We are to be dead to sin – separated from it and no longer acting as its slaves (Romans 6:2,11).
As we have noticed, it is spiritually healthy for us to lose some things. But, at the same time there are some things in our spiritual warfare that we do not want to lose. We must not lose heart, even as we face challenges, trials, and disappointments in life. “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9). We must continue to persevere in running the race that is set before us, running all the way to the finish line of life, even as the apostle Paul finished his race (2 Timothy 4:7).
We also must not lose our faith. In the wilderness, multitudes of Israelites were prime examples of believers that became unbelievers (Psalm 106:12,24). Yes, it is possible for children of the living God to develop “an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12).
Third, we must not lose our focus as we go through life. God calls us to “seek those things which are above,” setting our “mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1,2). We must keep the goal of going to heaven as our top priority in life! The matchless, eternal inheritance that our Lord has promised (1 Peter 1:3,4) is far better than any perishable, temporary stuff than one might accumulate or worldly honors that one might receive. Do not lose focus!
Christians are victorious people. While we are losers of some things, we thank God that through His Son our souls will be saved and not lost. At the end of the day, isn’t that all that really matters?!
— Roger D. Campbell