The Only Way to Win

by Andy Stanley

I. Introduction: How can you respond correctly to those who misjudge and persecute you? They may never give you a chance to tell your story. But if you follow Jesus’ example, you can still experience victory.

Scripture: Luke 23:34-39

II. Message

A. Everyone experiences judgment and unfair criticism.

1. Andy received a ticket for going too fast on the way to the hospital to help a church member. Instead of just being pardoned, he wanted to tell his story.
2. People are judged for a number of reasons: being too poor, too rich, uneducated, over-educated, unspiritual, over-spiritual, etc.
3. Unless we are careful, those who judge us will influence how we live. Examples: A young lady who was persecuted for having high moral standards; men whose wives constantly accuse them of being unfaithful.

B. Jesus modeled how to respond when we are mistreated.

1. Christ was no stranger to persecution. He was accused of various religious offenses during His whole ministry. Eventually, His opponents crucified Him.
2. Jesus had the ability to come up with devastating comebacks or command angels to defend Him. He modeled that the only way to win over judgment is to forgive (
Luke 23:34).
3. At Jesus’ death, the curtain bordering the Holy of Holies was torn in two (
Mark 15:37-38). This was a symbol that the cross opened up a new avenue of relationship between God and man.
4. Jesus’ response to the crucifixion was so remarkable that the centurion realized He must be the Son of God (
Mark 15:39).

C. As followers of Christ, we are called to forgive.

1. Forgiveness is powerful. Examples: girl whose father had kicked her out of the house; man whose father had disowned him for becoming a Christian.
2. There are no exceptions to the need to forgive. Our experiences pale in comparison to the cross.
3. When we love our enemies, we demonstrate who we really are—children of God (
Luke 6:35). Our heavenly Father draws people to repentance through kindness (Rom. 2:4).

III. Closing: When you are mistreated or judged, make the choice to act as a son or daughter of God. Love the unlovable; do good to those who use you; lend without expecting anything in return. Forgiveness is the only way to win.