Failure or victory?

    

Which is our definition of failure? Or victory? In today’s times these definitions as many others are being distorted by the society in which we live or the general idea or example we follow.

Let’s see again Matthew 10:39: “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”

We see that in this verse is mentioned the word “lose.” When someone reads for the first time this passage, and more precisely the second part of it saying, “he who loses his life for my sake will find it,” it looks like it is speaking about a defeat. And this is true, but this is not the defeat as we imagine it.

In the world in which we live today, there is an idea with which we are raised, and that is that we mustn’t ever give up; we have to be first in everything. This in general might not be wrong, but it depends on how we look at it. Some Christian may feel someone denying himself or giving others first place is considered as a defeat. We also have some role models who set up an example to follow. We are surrounded by famous personalities like sportsmen, actors, singers, or writers who we hear about in the media, and in this way, we are encouraged by the world to follow them in our lives. We choose whom to follow, but in general most of the persons set examples that maybe we can never achieve. There are good and also wrong examples, but if they are given by someone with a name, they become role models for us. These examples usually consist of being the strongest, smartest, or best in something according to the point of view set up by the world. Many times, people see that they cannot achieve these ideals, and they get frustrated and disappointed. Not everyone wants to follow what is right or be himself, but rather what the society or modern culture tells him to follow.

In part, all of us can follow certain things of what the society is showing us, but our way of life must be founded on what is right, and we need to follow it, no matter what everyone else is doing and following. In general, we’ve been taught to never give up and always win, but what we may need to do sometimes, is to lose, or better yet, to surrender and accept our failure. I know that this might be shocking and unusual to hear.

To accept our failure means that we accept and acknowledge who we are. The gospel tells us that we need to lose our life, so that we can gain it. “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:35).

To lose our life means that we have to lose our own way or our own ego, so that we can gain what is from God. We need to do this, since most of the time our own way and ego can harm us, as they are not always right most of the time.

There are many motivational speakers in today’s times, but maybe we don’t always need to be motivated to carry on in the same direction, but instead to realize that we can’t make it in our own way, and so we change direction. There are also some people who realize this, but without putting their trust in something higher, which is God, they can just lose hope and end up badly. But nevertheless, the fact is that we need to realize that we can’t make it on our own, but we go to God for answers. In a way, we have already failed. We just need to accept it. Jesus came for those who were sick (Luke 5:31–32), meaning for those who could acknowledge their need of Him. It is not that the rest of people don’t have any need, they just can’t see it.

The point is to see that the victory belongs to Him and that He brings it to our life. “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). We are more than conquerors in Him, not in ourselves. What we need to do is to accept our failure and to surrender to Him. In this way we avoid frustrations. When we are trying to achieve something with our own strength being under pressure, we can see that we can’t make it, as we know we don’t have enough capabilities or strength. It’s okay; we just need to accept it. If we can’t, we fail.

But this is the moment to turn to Him and surrender and tell Him: “God, I can’t anymore; I am weak; help me, please!”

He came to take our failure; He died to redeem us. This is the difference between when we expect something to happen by our own strength, and when we trust in Him. We need in a way to lose, so that He can win in our life, and so that He can give us the real victory.

The next time when the devil or some voice tells you that you failed, you can tell him: “Yes, it is true. I failed, but the victory is not found in me, but in Him who died for me and overcame everything including death. This is Jesus Christ.” “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

From this verse it is shown to us that all things work together for good to those who love God and are the called according to His purpose. Loving God means that we will not willingly look for failure or trouble to come into our life, but if it happens, then this could work for something good and for His glory. We can see the story of Samson for example (Judges 14–16). When trouble came to his life and he was captured by his enemies (Judges 16:18–31), this was the time when he prayed to God and, in that moment, He gave him strength, and he managed to kill more of his and God’s enemies than ever before. There were many other situations in the Bible where we see things working for good to people after trouble came into their lives. In the previous chapter, we also mentioned the story of Job. He was attacked by Satan, and it looked like he lost everything, but by going through these situations, he came to know God better and was blessed more than ever before. Then there is the story of Joseph, (Genesis 37–50) who was sold by his brothers as a slave, and after going through numerous trials, he ended up being the second in power in Egypt, which later helped for the survival of his relatives (the ones who sold him) and in this way the survival of the entire nation, which was the nation of Israel. All of this happened because of the amazing capability of God to turn into good something that was meant for evil (Genesis 50:20).

This is possible because the victory belongs to Him. It was obtained by the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Going back to the verse that says, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us,” we have to see what the previous verse says: “As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter’” (Romans 8:36). So we see that we are more than conquerors even in these situations, through Him who loves us.

We can look again at the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14–30. This parable represents a story in which a man departed to a far country. Before going he called his servants and gave them talents with which they could deal while awaiting his return. To one he gave five, to another two, and to another one talent. We see that the last one having received one talent only, dug in the ground and hid the talent given to him (Matthew 25:18). This displeased his master. Why is this parable focused exactly on the servant who received one talent only, and it is given as an example to us? It’s an example which we mustn’t follow. What we mustn’t follow is to hide the talent we have. It is not wrong how many talents somebody has—one or five, because this is not up to the person. He just receives what is given to him, and whatever he has, is given to him with a purpose. Nevertheless he, not the others, hid his talent, and that displeased his master. Because with this parable it is shown to us that even if we’ve got a little strength or we think we’ve got a little, we can still make something out of it, and we are accountable in front of God. Many times we might be thinking that as we don’t have a lot, then it is not worth it to try to do something with it. We say that this is for the others who have more, for the others that can make a bigger impact. We think that as we have only a little, then we will not make enough. But how are we so sure in that, if God is telling us that with little, He can do a lot, and that He can help those with little strength?

We can see a lack of faith here. Just imagine if all the great preachers and men of God, that we esteem as great, were left alone to do everything because the rest of the believers thought that they could never do enough, as they are not like them. Surely, there wouldn’t be a great result for the gospel then. I am speaking about people that we esteem as great, because God doesn’t look in the same way as we do, because He uses everyone in the exact way and moment He wants to, and everyone is important for Him and His kingdom. We have to know that each one is particularly special and unique in the sight of God.

What I am saying with all of this, is that the person with only one talent feared failure before even starting. That’s why this parable gives us an example with this person, because we can easily think that we have only a little and we will not make it. But this is exactly where the faith comes in. Didn’t David kill Goliath the giant with one small stone only? He accomplished something so great having something so little.

We can say that the person having received one talent only didn’t accept his failure, but feared that he could fail, and that’s why he tried to find a way in which it wouldn’t seem so bad (Matthew 25:24–25). He hid his talent in the ground because he thought he won’t lose it.

One of the best ways of fighting with the fear of failure when we are in front of something challenging to do, is to accept our weakness and condition, to accept that we can fail, but with faith to give everything out at the same time and with all our heart to do what we have to. I know that it might sound controversial, but in this way, we don’t have anything to lose, and we go all out for it. The problem with the one having one talent only, was that he feared he could lose something, since he saw himself as a weak person, as he didn’t have enough, and as there was something wrong in the way he was made. No. God doesn’t make mistakes and He didn’t make a mistake when He gave him one talent only. It was with a purpose. He knows His work. There are various parts in the body of Christ, which is the Church, and each one is there with a purpose, even the smallest one. He promises us to give us what is needed to overcome—that is enough and even in abundance. We just need to trust Him.

The change comes in this moment. When we accept that we will fail, we recognize it and we change our way of doing something, looking for a different approach to the situation and trying to trust in Him for more strength and wisdom. We see instead that this person tried to cover what was given to him and to make the thing look like nothing happened, like he did the right thing by hiding his talent. He was probably also looking too much at the others, thinking that he would never be like them or have their abilities. He was having a wrong way of viewing what a victory was. This is what we mustn’t do—to look at the others and to have our own idea of what a victory or success might be. We need to have His idea and view of what a victory is instead: His way. The secret is to trust Him and follow Him at every step. Then even our failures will turn into victories for Him because we trusted in Him. It is better sometimes to fail attempting to do God’s will than being still and falling into some sin. This is what happened to king David. He didn’t go to a war as he was supposed to, and being alone and comfortable, he sinned by committing adultery (2 Samuel 11).

Of course, it can happen to anyone sometimes to hide his talent and not do what God commands him, but it mustn’t be a permanent condition. We also need to examine well and have a biblical perspective on what God’s will is.

Sometimes people don’t attempt to do what God commands them and wants from them, because they think they will fail, not because they are prevented by something reasonable like the word of God itself. There are also other ways, however, in which we can fail, by staying and relaxing in our places or in our comfort zone, same as the situation of king David.

The only reason we need to stop doing something for God is because we saw through the Word of God itself that this is not what He requires from us now, or we need a better preparation. This should be the only reason, and it needs to be confirmed through certain situations and His Word above all. It also needs to be examined well. For any other reason, we need to see well if it is our fear preventing us from doing it.

Sometimes when we don’t feel strong and capable of doing something, and we don’t have much to offer, we don’t even attempt doing it. Let’s get as an example, that we are about to meet someone, and we know that it would be good to testify to that person about the gospel. We know that maybe we don’t know how to start the conversation, or we don’t have the capability on how to exactly approach him. This is at least what I feel sometimes. So, by feeling this, it happens that sometimes we don’t even pray for that person. We don’t even pray to God before encountering the person, to give us wisdom on how to approach him, because we consider not to have much to offer. We give up in advance. This is obviously not the right way to face the situation. We should at least pray for that person or just to try saying something to him, even a few words.

Otherwise, we reduce Christianity to a mere keeping ourselves from some wrongdoings and living without hurting anyone, which is obviously to be done. These were the words of the one having received the one talent: “And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours” (Matthew 25:25).

He presented it untouched to his master. He apparently did nothing wrong. The question is that he didn’t do anything else either. He spent efforts to hide it, to hide what God had given him. The Word says that he went and hid it in the ground. It looks like he could’ve gone and done something else with it, making the same efforts. Sometimes we might spend the same efforts to hide our belief as the ones we could spend to proclaim it. If some person doesn’t have much or enough, it doesn’t mean that God doesn’t want to use him in a particular way for His glory. That’s why He created him in such a way, because He wanted to use him in a particular way to achieve a certain purpose and result.

You might be looking at some believer that, according to you is having a lot, and you see him when engaging with someone and testifying to him about Jesus, to do that for a whole hour of time or even more (I am not saying this is wrong), using certain arguments and words that will never come up in your mind. And you might admire that and think that you will never be able to do it in just such a way, and easily give up before even approaching someone for the gospel. Well, not all persons are the same, speaking even about those who have to listen and accept the gospel. What if not all the persons will listen to the message transmitted to them in that particular way and may be reached through another? Only God knows the best way for each one, and that’s the reason why He is in charge and uses people the way He wants to.

Sometimes even if we say just a phrase or talk to someone for a minute about the Bible, it might be used to bring fruit—everything according to the situation. Sometimes when I expected to talk a lot, it happened that I didn’t manage to do it, and when I expected to say just a little about the gospel, God opened a door, and I could testify more. It’s important to place our talent there. Today a minute, tomorrow more, but what is important is not to hide it.

As we said before, the person with one talent only was probably looking at the others, at how much they had received, comparing and measuring himself to them. All of us can often look at others instead of focusing on ourselves and our relationship with God. We look at them and then maybe we get frustrated that we can’t achieve what they achieve, but the fact is that God wants to make a unique work in us, a work of His master hand that only He is capable of. This is what we can be in His hands. God’s treatment and work in us is personal. He is personal for us even if we are having the same kind of faith as the other brothers and sisters in Christ. The way we look at this and our relationship with Him will also determine if we are going to really succeed by accomplishing His will.

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