Victor or Victim?

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I'm pressing on the upward way New heights I'm gaining every day Still praying as I onward bound Lord, plant my feet on higher ground Lord, lift me up, and let me stand By faith on heaven's tableland A higher plane than I have found Lord, plant my feet on higher ground My heart has no desire to stay Where doubts arise and fears dismay Though some may dwell where those abound My prayer, my aim, is higher ground

I grew up with an education system in which it was compulsory to learn two languages apart from the mother tongue. English and Scots were my first languages but I had to make a choice (as a ten year old!) between French and German as modern spoken languages and Latin and Greek as “classical” languages. For the record I chose French and Latin. As schoolboys do, we had a little rhyme describing the experience:

Latin is a language as dead as dead can be, It killed the ancient Romans, and now it’s killing me!

Apart from filling my head with useless facts from Caesar’s Gallic Wars, pithy proverbs: “festina lente!” (“hurry slowly!”), and a number of legal terms: “in loco parentis” (“taking the role of a parent”), the study of Latin did provide me some essential tools in understanding other Romance languages such as Italian and Spanish, since many of the same root words are borrowed from Latin into those, as well as our own English.

In my headline are two English words which are derived from a Latin stem beginning with “vic-“. “Vic-“ in Latin is at the root of words which describe the outcome of a struggle, either positive or negative depending on the disposition. As an aside, the equivalent word in Greek is “nike” which is why the shoe company chose it!

The Latin verb for offering a sacrifice is “victimo” (“I make an offering”) and the item which I struggle to relinquish is “victim” (“the object sacrificed”). The “victor” is the leader who prevails in a battle or struggle. “Victor” is often translated into English as “conqueror” or “overcomer”. I’ll leave it to you to crack open your dictionary (or wikipedia) and just peruse all the words in English which start with “vic-“ and convey the idea of a “winner”. Once you’ve done that crack open your New Testament and look at how often Jesus and the other writers talk about winning and overcoming despite a struggle in doing so.

Jesus himself is the ultimate “victim”, the sacrificial lamb. He allowed himself to be overcome so that in turn we would be overcomers.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV

Paul instructs us: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21 NIV

And John the Apostle: “…In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” 1 John 5:3-5 NIV

And as revealed to John: “The one who is victorious [an overcomer] I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name.” Revelation 3:12 NIV [emphasis mine]

In these times of turmoil and strife it is easy to be lured by Satan into thinking that we are being defeated. This is, as always, a lie. We are certainly engaged in a struggle and may face difficulties, but in the end we emerge as victors, victorious and not victims [three “vic-“ words in a row!].

Don’t be dis-couraged, but rather be en-couraged because Jesus forewarned us that this is how it would be and He has already assured our victory!

I am pleased to tell you that I have read the end of the Book - and we win! Hallelujah!

No need to feel like a victim when you are a victor!

Blessings on you and yours, Jim Black

Saturday April 9th, 2022
Sunday March 27th, 2022