Word of the Month

Little victories

October 2007

When Apostle Paul made the congregation in Corinth aware of Christ’s victory over death and our hope in the resurrection, he concluded with the statement: “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15: 57). This victory over death, which results from the sacrifice of Jesus, is unique and cannot be repeated. However, there are also “little victories” in our life of faith.

The history of our Church attests that such victories have been achieved again and again ever since the Apostles resumed their activity. Every time a repentant sinner has his sins forgiven through an Apostle in the name of the Lord Jesus, it is a victory. Every time a human being becomes a child of God, it is a victory. It is a great victory whenever an unbeliever comes to believe or a fool becomes wise. And whenever someone who was formerly unwilling to serve the Lord changes his mind and begins to serve Him, he too is victorious. Many victories have been gained in this context over the past 150 years. We must acknowledge that the Lord has granted these victories. They could not have come about through human merit.

Now I also hope that such victories will continue to be achieved in the future, so that every single one of us may “be partakers of the divine nature”, as Apostle Peter writes (cf. 2 Peter 1: 4). We already partake of the victorious divine life and nature through the rebirth out of water and the Spirit. This divine nature is to unfold within us and come to perfection in that we constantly radiate the love of God, maintain the right perspective on our earthly lives, preserve our peace … The “little victories” help us to this end.

But is this not glossing things over somewhat? Have there not also been defeats? Yes, certainly there have also been setbacks here and there. The prince of this world often manages to get the better of us. But God can also arrange things in such a way that victory results from what seems like a defeat. Joseph professed the Lord and refused to give in to sin: “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” he asked when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him (cf. Genesis 39: 9). He ended up in prison as a result. This definitely seemed like a bitter defeat. But the Lord changed this situation around completely and turned it into a brilliant victory: Joseph was promoted by Pharaoh and became Egypt’s most powerful man. Thus we must be careful not to jump to conclusions. Many things that seem like a defeat can ultimately become a victory. And even if at times it seems that we have suffered an irreversible defeat, then let us not dwell on it but rather focus on our victories. Luther formulated it as follows in one particular Psalm: “With joy they sing of victory in the tents of the righteous” (free translation of Luther Bible, Psalm 118: 15). People do not sing of their defeats with joy – they only sing with joy of their victories. When we keep our eyes on these victories and adopt the divine perspective, we will notice many good, beautiful, and positive things. Let us always focus on our victories!  

(From a divine service by the Chief Apostle)