Pyrrhic Victories

O.J. Simpson is back in the news again for appealing his conviction in 2008 for robbery and assault. Yeah, I know. An entire generation just said, “O.J. who?” But at one time, O.J. Simpson: football player, actor, and spokesperson, was on top of his game. Then America watched his downfall almost 20 years ago with possibly the most-watched car chase and murder trial of the century.

Amazingly, in what seemed like the ultimate victory, a jury failed to convict O.J. of allegedly murdering his ex-wife and her boyfriend. But his victory was so costly that he was unable to mount a serious defense in the civil court against the families of the Browns and Goldmans to the tune of $33.62 million dollars. In the years that followed, O.J. lost everything.

O.J. Simpson is a classic example of something called a “Pyrrhic Victory.” A Pyrrhic victory is a victory with such devastating cost that it leaves the victor in a defenseless state for the next attack. It is named after King Pyrrhus of Epirus, whose army suffered irreplaceable casualties in defeating the Romans in 280 & 279 BC. Pyrrhus is often quoted as having said, “Another such victory and we shall be utterly ruined.”

In Matthew 5:23-25, Jesus said, “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.”

Some battles simply aren’t worth winning. Have you ever “won the battle” only to have “lost the war?” We must guard carefully against entering battles that aren’t worth winning, especially within the church. Some battles are absolutely worth fighting no matter the cost: fighting against sin, resisting the Devil, etc. But we must choose our battles carefully. Have you wronged someone? Will you be able to stand in front of the Lord one day and say it was worth it? Will you allow a meaningless battle to consume you so much you aren’t able to fight the next, more important battle? Give it some thought…

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