Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win – Sun Tzu
This quote comes from China at about the time when Babylon had already crushed Jerusalem and led the best and brightest of Israel into captivity. The Chinese were far beyond the Bible’s horizon at the time. Nevertheless, they sought wisdom and sometimes struck gold.
Sun Tzu’s words of military conduct describe perfectly the essential truth that lies behind the Christian faith: We go out every day already victorious. The war was won when sin was paid for on the Cross. Victory was proven at the door of the empty tomb. Paul says we are more-than-victorious:
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)
So why do so many of us begin each day on the defensive – working from an attitude of defeat? You know what I mean: “What if they pick on me at school?” “What if I don’t get that contract?” “What if the doctor has bad news?” What if questions are grounded in how we live life on earth, speaking to our brief sojourn here. They are important questions, but they need to be put in perspective, and perhaps rephrased from the vantage point of victory.
Q: “How will I respond if they pick on me at school?” is a better question.
A: Well: “I will be kind and fair and gracious – because when all’s said and done, that’s how we want victors to be.” I don’t need to be spiteful.
Q: “How will I react if I don’t get that contract?”
A: Well: “If I’ve been careful in my preparation, and if I have been honest in my presentation, then I have to let it go. I won’t compromise my integrity just to get the money.” That’s how we want victors to be. I don’t need to be shifty.
Q: “How will I deal with a challenging diagnosis?”
A: Well: “I have to yield myself to God’s care. Once in a while He interrupts the flow of our natural frailty with a surprising recovery – but not always. However, if I can persevere with courage through this season, then even my illness can be a testimony to His sovereignty. The hope of heaven is more powerful than the despair of life on earth. That’s how we want victors to be.” I don’t need to be discouraged.
Every one of us wakes up each morning with a series of challenges ahead. The question is – will we respond from the quiet, gracious confidence of someone who has already secured the ultimate victory, or will we pitch in and try to inflict as much damage as we can, because we sense we are fighting our way out from imagined defeat?
The battle belongs to the Lord, and He has already secured the victory. Be vigilant: stand, and having done all things, remain standing, But don’t act defeated before you even step out.