Given the choice, would you rather be known as a sore loser or a sore winner?
Sore losers are often part explosive anger, part pity party, and part blame-game.
Sore winners are arrogant, boisterous, and often insulting toward their recently-defeated foes.
Neither is a pretty picture, but we often hear much about avoiding sore losing and little about sore winning. It’s as if winners are off the hook, free to simply relish their victories with no regard to their actions.
Enter Proverbs 24:17-18.
“Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; lest the Lord see it and be displeased, and he turn away his anger from him.”
First things first, this verse isn’t about baseball. In fact, the Bible never mentions baseball (sigh). Yet, we know that we take whoever we are to the field each day, so there’s little doubt that God intends the Scripture to be working on us in everything we do, including baseball.
The wise author recognizes something, under the inspiration and direction of God’s Holy Spirit. God’s not a fan of sore winners. Those who gloat, those who rub it in, those who take special pleasure in the failure and demise of others…well, don’t think God joins you in that mentality.
In life, the author says, we are to avoid elation at the fall of others, or else we displease the Lord with the opposite behavior. This isn’t a threat, as if God will come and get you because you stepped on a man when he was down. The point is that it is God, not us, who has the prerogative to punish our enemies.
So, a few questions to consider as you go through the day.
How do you treat the opponent you hate? Do you rub it in when you win, talking trash at every opportunity? Consider the grace given to you by Jesus on the cross–we were once his enemies, but now he calls us his friends.
How do you respond when a personal enemy has done to him what he typically does to everyone else? “Well, what goes around comes around,” is likely less than God’s best response. Consider the love of Jesus that looked with compassion upon even those who “deserved” anything but that.
How has Jesus changed your heart toward those who do you wrong? Consider his words on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Both in his words and in his actions (his death), he showed the heart he has for his enemies, the heart he desires us to have for them.
Lord Jesus, overwhelm me with your grace and love. Change my heart toward my enemies. By the power of the cross, help me to love them as you love me. Amen.