Saturday, November 24, 2012

Necessary Losses

Inspired by our pastor’s sermon last weekend, I was thinking about how to be thankful for everything, not just the gains, but also the losses. This really seems like a tough pill to swallow when the losses are involuntary. But I started thinking that some losses are chosen. Why would we do that?

Perhaps we might do that in order to gain something as a result.    

When we became committed to our church there was a loss involved for us. We had become used to spending most weekends down at the marina on our sailboat. It was evident that we would have to make a choice where we would invest our time and money. A sailboat does not maintain itself. There are slip fees, insurance, boat payments and upkeep fees. We still miss the sailboat, but we love our church community better.

The Bible uses the words sacrifice and surrender to describe voluntary losses for the purpose of gain. They are not words that I am naturally drawn to, but they are important concepts if I am to achieve maturity.

Some of our sacrifices are in obedience to God in order to gain favor and accomplish His purposes in our lives and in the lives of others. Parents make sacrifices to promote the welfare of their children. Employers make sacrifices to promote the welfare of their employees. The hope is that the results would be loyalty from children and employees. (And obviously there are no guarantees.)

I think about the people who choose to go on missions trips, often paying for all or much of the expenses themselves. They may use up their vacation time from work, or for longer mission commitments they might even quit their jobs and rely on their savings to fund their calling. The loss of financial security can be significant. 

With marriage there are other necessary losses involved.

  • I give up separate relationships with members of the opposite sex. No more private lunches with co-workers or dinner with friends of the opposite sex without my spouse. I don’t go “hang out” in singles environments anymore. We find couples activities instead.
  •  “My time” becomes “our time”, and my schedule is no longer my own. I don’t make time commitments outside of work without discussing it with my mate first. Girls or boys “night out” is no longer a given. It doesn't have to disappear; it just needs to be agreed upon.
  •  “My money” becomes “our money” and spending decisions must be mutual. I no longer spend like I did when I was single. Things like electronic gear, (musical instruments), smart phones, clothes, shoes, handbags and a hundred other things must be decided based on our “family” budget, not my sole desire. Delayed gratification becomes the rule, not the exception. 

When couples become parents there are further losses.

I know many wives who will allow their husbands to continue in risky behavior up until they become pregnant, but then they insist that things change. The motorcycle has to be sold. No more extreme sports. No more trips to Las Vegas or other gambling behaviors, etc.  No more living on the financial edge, from paycheck to paycheck. Buying toys for the child takes priority over buying “toys” for the adults.

But all these are necessary losses if we are to become fully mature – and trust me, maturity is a huge gain in the long run.

1 Cor. 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.

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