A “Lose – Lose Situation! by: Dan Gulley, Smithville, TN
The phrase “win–win” is familiar to many of us. A win–win situation is defined by Merriam-Webster as “advantageous or satisfactory to all parties involved.” An example is an employer who provides a flexible work schedule for a valued employee so the employee can attend family appointments and other personal matters that are important and desirable to them. The employer “wins” by retaining an important employee for his / her business or organization, and the employee “wins” by being able to take care of personal matters when need arises while maintaining job security. It’s a “win–win” because everybody involved keeps or gains something important and valuable. But what about a “lose-lose” situation? That, of course, is a situation or circumstance in which “nobody wins.” Maybe it was a heinous crime where a husband murders his wife who is also the mother of their two small children. He is convicted and sentenced to prison for the rest of his life with no possibility of parole. Justice has been served, but someone observes that the wife lost her life, the husband lost his freedom, and the children have lost not only their mother, but also their father. Nobody wins.
This week, in preparing for an upcoming sermon, I’ve been reading and re-reading and reading again the two-thousand-year-old words of the apostle Paul to Christians living in Galatia. He urges them to “stand fast in the freedom by which Christ has made us free.” According to Paul’s message in Galatians, freedom from the guilt and judgment sin always brings was made possible and available to us through Jesus’ death in our behalf on the cross. Spiritual emancipation is received by means of a faith that relies on what Christ did for us at the cross, a faith that complies with what He tells us to do (Galatians 1:4; 2:20; 3:26-29). Paul is very clear to remind us that the “freedom” Christians enjoy in Christ does not mean, as some foolishly and falsely suggest, there are no limits on what we are free to do. Listen carefully to these words from Galatians 5:13-15 — “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!” Those Bible words describe a potential “lose–lose” situation! Liberty does not mean “license.” Christians are called to be a Christ-like people. Being saved by grace does not lessen our responsibility to strive against sin and selfishness, but increases it! In Paul’s words, liberty in Christ, when properly understood and fleshed out, works in tandem with love. Liberty spurs us to serve, not sin or our selfish desires, but one another. According to Strong’s Concordance the Greek word translated “serve” in verse 13 means “to be a slave.” Are you listening to this apostle?! Are you really hearing what he says? Are you free in Christ? Praise the Lord. But you are no longer free to sin and serve yourself. You are now a slave — bound by a Christ-like love to “through love serve others.” When we do that it’s a “win-win” for everybody concerned. Needs are met, relationships strengthened, unity and harmony maintained, and in the midst of it all God is pleased and glorified. Failure to love and serve each other leads to the ugly and alarming situation Paul describes in Galatians 3:15 cited above — Christians practicing spiritual cannibalism as they “bite and devour and consume one another”! Animal fights can get really ugly. One may “win” but the other loses. It’s infinitely uglier when Christians “bite and devour and consume” each other. That’s a lose-lose situation. Nobody wins. Don’t ever do it.