All Is Fair in Football, Politics, and Faith
For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.” 2 Corinthians 10:10
I love watching football on Sunday afternoons in the fall. In doing so though, I’ve noticed something peculiar about myself. Whenever there’s a bully on the other team – someone who plays angry, with a chip on his shoulder – I despise him. He’s mean, he’s dirty, and I can’t stand watching him. If I had my way, he’d be thrown out of the NFL. If, however, he was on my team, I’d love him. If he was my team’s bad boy, I’d smile, wink, and nod at his shenanigans. I’d forgive – or maybe even defend – his bad behavior because it would be bad behavior that benefitted me and my team.
It’s our nature to abhor cheating and bullying on the other side. It’s not fair and we’re offended when we observe that kind of behavior being used against us. It’s also our nature though to want our side to use those same tactics when we see the opposing team using them. Fight fire with fire. We abhor evil in others, but we justify, and maybe even defend it in ourselves.
In today’s passage, we’re told how the Apostle Paul refused to do this. He denounced using the weapons of the flesh to fight his battles and rather, chose to consistently live as Christ wanted him to live (2 Corinthians 10:1-5). For this, his detractors called him weak, criticizing his speech and appearance. It wasn’t the content of his message that his enemies chose to attack. Rather, they used the age-old tactic of bullying, mocking his appearance and stature. Paul however, refused to respond in kind.
This isn’t natural for most of us. We want to win at all costs, so, we justify and support the monster on our side. Paul would rather have maintained his own integrity, losing a confrontation than to win, while sacrificing his own soul. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul (Matthew 16:26)?
When we succumb to our dark nature, we believe the end justifies the means, and we’ll defend evil if it produces the results we want. In this mindset, we’ll follow, vote for, support, and even defend the bully as long as he or she gets results. In using the world’s tactics though, Paul said we’ve already lost. Winning in God’s eyes often looks very different that winning in the world’s eyes.