How to Love After You Win

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by Santosh Poonen

Sometimes it’s harder to maintain a good attitude after you win, than it is to maintain a good attitude after you lose. And interestingly, God doesn’t so much care about the outcome of your situation (whether you win or lose), as the attitude of your heart (I Samuel 16:7). In other words, you could win, and end up being the biggest loser!

Let me recount a little anecdote to explain what I mean. I was recently given a traffic citation. I felt that the charge was unfair, based on the circumstances, so rather than admit guilt and pay the fine, I opted to defend myself in court. After the officer and I had both presented our cases, the judge ruled in my favor. Outwardly, I showed no emotion, but inwardly, I was way over the moon. Later that day I had a conversation with my Dad in which I recounted my “legal triumph.” After sharing in my joy his first question was, “How did the officer take it? Did he seem discouraged?” I realized then that while I had paid cursory attention to the officer’s demeanor, I hadn’t really thought about how this may have affected him.

Fortunately, from what I know of the judicial system, the officer would not have been negatively impacted by this outcome, other than perhaps some loss of pride. But, the teachable moment was there for me to grasp from my Dad: in situations in life where our winning could have a negative impact on others, those are where we demonstrate whether we truly have the love of God pouring out from within our hearts (Romans 5:5).

A closer read of I Corinthians 13:5-6 reveals the attributes of love that, I believe, are revealed in exactly this type of situation – i.e., after a victory. This love:

  • doesn’t strut
  • is more interested in how the other guy’s doing than in how I am
  • doesn’t hold resentments over what I’ve had to go through
  • doesn’t revel when others grovel (from the Message paraphrase)

So, the next time you win, pause for a moment. The greater battle is ahead of you yet. Spare a thought of love for the loser, and you will have won big where it matters most – with God!

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