A Costly Victory

Story of the Day for Tuesday September 6, 2011

A Costly Victory

                     Make sure that no one is lacking in God’s grace and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble . . . 

                                                    Hebrews 12:15

 Sometimes winning is worse than losing.

 

I knew this guy, whom I’ll call Romiere, who confided to me that he used to be a con man. He shared some of his secrets in swindling people, which I won’t divulge because  . . . well, just because. But, since one of his tricks so was so ingenious (and not strictly illegal), I’ll share it with you as long as you promise not to tell anyone else.

Romiere would walk into a tavern, sit next to a stranger at the bar, and strike up a friendly conversation. Then my ex-con man friend would take off his hat, cover the guy’s drink. “Bet you a quarter I can drink your whiskey without moving my hat.”

“No way; you’re on.”

As soon as the guy took the bet, Romiere would lift his hat, slug down the guy’s whiskey, and say, “You’re right – I couldn’t do it. You win the bet.”

Romiere smiled and said, “I would lose the bet, but it usually took the guy a while to realize I just took his drink for a quarter.”

 

Have you ever heard of a Pyrrhic victory? Around 280 B.C., Pyhhrus was king of Epirus (which was between modern-day Albania and Greece). He fought the Roman army at Heraclea and Asculum and won both battles.

Even though Pyhhrus was victorious in battle, his tiny country sustained enormous losses. The Romans lost more soldiers in the battles, but they could easily replenish their military strength. When one man congratulated King Pyhhrus on his victories, the king replied that one more such victory would utterly destroy him.

In a Pyrhhic victory, you win – but your victory is so costly, you would have been better off if you had not succeeded.

 

Getting revenge is a Pyrrhic victory. Even if we retaliate and hurt those who hurt us, we will pay dearly in the attempt. Hatred breeds bitterness, which rots the soul. Have you ever met a bitter person whom you would label as happy?

 

When Abraham Lincoln was an attorney, an angry man stormed into his office, wanting to sue a poor man who owed him money. Lincoln tried to dissuade him – informing him his legal fees would be four times the amount owed him.

The angry man didn’t care. He wanted his debtor to pay.

So, Lincoln charged his fee, took a quarter of it and gave it to the man who was unable to pay his debt. Lincoln made a tidy profit, the debtor was relieved to have his debt paid off.

But it took a while for the angry man to realize that victory could be so costly.

                                                            (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)