There are some things worth fighting for. And in those situations, we should never give in. For instance, if we’re being compelled to reject Christ, we fight. But so many other things that people fight over aren’t worth fighting over. Usually these happen to be a difference of opinion or a difference in the way folks do things. For instance, I might spread my peanut butter on bread a certain way because it’s efficient. I get that peanut butter spread in minimal time. Another person may have another method, and while it may take three times longer than the way I do it, it’s not worth fighting over. If the other person picks a fight over one of these things, graciously lose. Even if you win the fight, do you really win amidst the raised tempers, hurt feelings, and time wasted? No, you don’t.
And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? – Matthew 26:51-53, ESV
Sometimes we have to lose the fight intentionally to get the consequences we want. In this case, the Roman host and the religious leaders had confronted Jesus. Peter sprang into action, defending Jesus. Jesus stopped him. And then He made the point to Peter that if He wanted to fight, He could, and He could do so with overwhelming force. But for Jesus, fighting was the wrong choice here. In order to fulfill the Scriptures (v. 54), He had to go to the Cross. Jesus chose to lose the fight. Winning the fight meant no Cross. Winning the fight meant no propitiation for our sins. Winning the fight meant no salvation, no redemption, and no forgiveness. For Jesus, the right choice was to lose the fight. So He lost it.
Losing a fight intentionally means swallowing our pride. It means being humble and thinking of the other person or other people affected more than we think of ourselves. That’s the example Jesus set when He didn’t call down the angels to defend Himself. And that’s the example He expects us to follow. It’s easy to spring into a fight because we want to. It easy to be critical of others, to not be satisfied, to want to be right, and to fight for it. But that’s not always best. It may be harmful for us and/or the folks around us. Sometimes, we must choose not to participate in the fight, to let the other person win.
So how do we know whether to fight or not? Well, the first thing we have to do is think about whether the fight is worth it or not. Is the fight over something important? If not, then why fight? Sometimes fighting and standing firm is important. Many have wondered what would world history be like if Neville Chamberlain didn’t choose a policy of appeasement with Hitler, for instance. But if it’s not important, then we don’t fight. The other thing we have to do is think about the consequences. Where my boys take karate, one of the parts of their creed is, “Use common sense before self defense.” Sure, we might be capable of winning the fight. They are trained to win the fight. But what happens afterwards? Is not fighting, losing the challenge or the fight, the path to a better consequence? Then we should lose the fight. That’s what that part of the creed means.
Both of these steps means we must think. Being hotheaded doesn’t work. We have to be willing to lose the fight if we come to the conclusion that either the fight isn’t worth it, or we get better consequences by choosing not to win. While this might fly in the face of everything we’re taught, the fact of the matter is it is the exact example Jesus gave us on His way to the Cross. Stand up and fight when we should, as Jesus did when He cleaned out the Temple, but realize that sometimes we must choose to not fight, or to lose the fight, for something better.