“But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
1 Timothy 6:6
You knew it was coming: the protests, the anger, the pouting, and the name calling and gloating. To the observer these may just seem like natural reactions to a hotly contested election, but they are so much more. These reactions define who we are as people and more importantly reveal what is in our hearts. For Christians this is of the utmost importance. If we were concerned our testimonies might be compromised leading up to the election, we should be even more concerned now. It is time we faced the truth that deep in our hearts we can be rude, nasty, and unkind individuals. It is great to be passionate about a cause, but be aware that passion can easily morph into something much less noble.
I want you all to know that I woke up on November 9th and on November 10th and I did the same things I do every day. I brushed my teeth, got dressed, went downstairs, and made myself a cup of coffee. The world hasn’t ended despite what many may think. I am equally convinced that the world also has all the same problems it did before and maybe a few new ones. The election results did not spur on some kind of apocalypse as some might have feared. There have been no power struggles and no refusals to step down. In fact what few reactions I have had time to see from the candidates have been gracious. However, for the posts flooding my facebook feed, “gracious” is definitely not the word I would use. People are being downright cruel and belligerent. Many of these people openly name the name of Christ. When we were kids in Sunday School we used to sing a song that went, “Be careful little eyes what you see…..ears what you hear…..mouth what you speak. For the Father up above is looking down in love…..” For the modern social media generation maybe we should also add “Be careful little fingers what you type….” If you think that the Father up above is not looking at your facebook feed, I am afraid you are gravely mistaken. Now before someone accuses me of being a Trump or Hillary supporter, you should know I didn’t vote for either of them. The point is not how we voted or what we wanted. The point is how we act now in light of what has happened.
So why are we acting the way we are? It all comes down to the simple fact that we love to win and we hate to lose. When we win we can not resist the temptation to gloat and rub in our victory. One post I read this morning exclaimed, “Now is the time to step on the necks of liberals and crush them.” Most people have experienced both victory and defeat. When we win, we forget so quickly how it feels to be defeated. One friend of mine (who voted Republican) wisely wrote that now is the time to remember how it felt to lose the last two elections and have sympathy for those who are now feeling as we have felt. Her words of wisdom unfortunately are in short supply these days. As much as we love to win, we equally hate to lose. The feeling can be gut wrenching and elicit horrible reactions. One time when we were newly married my wife and I decided one evening to play a very competitive card game. As some times happens things did not go my way at all. I became very competitive and very frustrated. To my shame, I ended up ruining the game for both of us. You don’t know embarrassment until you realize you are arguing with your spouse over a dumb card game. How we handle defeat and victory says a lot about who we are as a person and what is really important.
So what’s the point? Let me encourage you to be content in both winning and losing. In Philippians 4:12, Paul declared, “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound.” That is a pretty powerful statement. I wonder how many of us can say the same thing? Most of us don’t know how to be either. In verse 11 he actually tells us that he has learned to be content in all situations. Then in verse 13 he gives us the key to this contentment. He says, ” I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Paul’s hope and more importantly his strength was in something/ someone much greater than himself or any man. It was in Christ, and in Christ he felt that he could face all things. The strength of Christ allowed him to properly handle both winning and losing. Let me make one quick and simple observation and application. Is Christ’s strength enough for you to handle the results of the election? I certainly hope so. If you were on the winning side, his strength can help you to act in kindness, understanding, and sympathy. If you were on the losing side, God can help you as you are abased and humbled. After all we can’t always win, and when we lose, we need to trust in the sovereign, all knowing will of God. I predict that this election will soon fade in our minds. We will return to life and many of us will even forget the passions we so strongly felt. The thing that will not soon be forgotten will be the boastful gloating of winners and the complaining of sore losers. For Christians, we must ask: how many opportunities to share our faith with others have we lost because of our attitudes? If we could find out we might be shocked. Please remember to be content as a winner and as a loser and face all things in the strength of Christ.