Have you ever met someone who loved to lose? I can't say that I have. No matter what the competition is, everyone knows the point of competing is to win, but even if you manage to win, there's always someone who will lose. In what is probably one of the first lessons of sports; for every winner, there's a loser, and vice versa. As a young child and teenager, like many, I was really competitive. It's healthy to care and want to do your best for yourself or your team, but there's a fine line between winning and winning at all costs. People love to say, "a win is a win", but how we win is just as important as why we win. After experiencing a loss, a good coach or parent might say, "losing is okay because there is always some form of victory in defeat." No one may have understood this better than the Apostle Paul.
In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul writes about the victory that comes in defeat, but it's not what you might expect. 1 Corinthians 9: 19-23 says, "Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings."
Paul acknowledges that he was free to do whatever he wanted, but bringing people to Jesus was the only thing that mattered to him. He defeated himself to gain victory in Christ. Losing is hard, but letting go of our selfish ambitions and desires for the sake of bringing people to Christ is arguably the toughest thing we must do. Doing so is not an option, it's an obligation we have as Christians [Note: I'm guilty of struggling with this too.]. When society starts to look divisive, remember that Paul made himself "a slave to everyone to win as many as possible." This may seem impossible, but Paul (and originally Jesus) gave us footprints to follow. For the sake of the gospel, there is victory in defeat.