Why do we have to lose to win?

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

WHY? Because Christ said so. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,

but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” he said. (Mt 16,24-26)

We have to make some adjustments in how we see and understand things. Those words of Christ actually describe for us what true love is. It’s when we give up everything in a way that would fill us with what is proper to us, when true love is generated.

This is the example of Christ himself, who in the words of St. Paul said that “in our relationships with one another, we ought to have the same mindset as Christ: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness…” (Phil 2,5-7)

We certainly have to make some drastic adjustments in our understanding of what true love is. It will always involve self-giving, a certain losing in order to win, a certain giving up to gain something more important.

Christ taught about this kind of love in those parables that compared the Kingdom of God with the treasure hidden in the field, or with the merchant looking for fine pearls. (cfr. Mt 13,44-45) A certain giving up is always involved when we have to find what is best for us. And we should not be contented with what is good enough in the context of the good being the enemy of the best.

Christ wants us to lose in human terms so that we can win in the end in divine terms which is what really matters. This is made clear, for example, when Christ articulated the beatitudes that would somehow put us in the losing end in order to have the victory of being truly blessed. (cfr. Mt 5,3-12)

This is reiterated when he talked about the willingness to lose an eye, an arm, a foot, if these would cause us to sin. Better to lose them and enter heaven rather than to have them and get to hell. (cfr. Mt 5,29-31)

In another instance Christ clearly told us that for us to be his disciples, we should be willing to ‘hate’ our father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even our own life. We should be willing to carry our cross. (cfr. Lk 14,26-27)

To be able to live by this divine logic, we of course would need first of all the grace of God. We have to ask for it with humility. And then we need to do our part, exerting the due effort to acquire the appropriate attitude and corresponding virtues. We should have the attitude of willingly giving up everything else just to be with God. “Vale la pena,” it is all worthwhile, should somehow be like a slogan for us.

Everyday, we have to see to it that there is always something that we give up not only for some personal goal or interest, but also and mainly for the love of God and others. Let’s hope that the little self-denials we do everyday will prepare us for the ultimate self-detachment we have to make to enter into our definitive union with God.

Email: roycimagala@gmail.com