WHEN VICTORY IS DEFEAT – a lesson from King Pyrrhus

Pyrrhic VictoryKing Pyrrhus of Epirus suffered irreplaceable casualties in defeating the Romans at Heraclea in 280 BC and Asculum in 279 BC during the Pyrrhic War.

Pyrrhus is quoted as saying
“Another such victory and I come back to Epirus alone”
“If we are VICTORIOUS IN ONE MORE BATTLE with the Romans,
we shall be UTTERLY RUINED.”

In both of Pyrrhus’ victories, the Romans suffered greater casualties than Pyrrhus did and withdrew from the battles. In all, more than 15,000 soldiers were killed. However, the Romans had a much larger supply of men from which to draw soldiers, so their casualties did less damage to their war effort than Pyrrhus’ casualties did to his.  All Pyrrhus’ commanders and top soldiers were gone and he had no recruits left.

So, today, the term “Pyrrhic Victory” is used to define a victory gained with such a devastating cost that it carries the implication that another such victory will ultimately lead to defeat.

How does a Pyrrhic Victory apply in the EVERYDAY LIFE of today?

#  Some people make such an effort to improve their living standard that they have no time to appreciate the improvement.
#  Some people spend all their time climbing the ladder of success just to spend more energy trying to hang on when they get there. They end up with more anxiety and problems than they had before.

Too many people are so determined to provide for their family, that in doing so they actually neglect their family.  This is borne out by questionnaires asking elderly people what one thing they would change if they had their lives to live over. The most frequent response is “I would spend more time with my family”.

So what about the CHRISTIAN LIFE?

#  Time spent in the service of the King of kings is NEVER wasted.
#  Working with Christ has an unalterably true result: no matter what we invest, it pays valuable dividends.
#  Whatever we give Him, He returns more, and He rewards the effort as well as the achievement. It is impossible to out-give God. The more we give of our selves, our time, effort, money or anything else, the bigger the shovel He uses.
#  In committed service for Christ there is no such thing as a Pyrrhic victory, for our eternal future is guaranteed by the atoning blood of Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my beloved brethren,
be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

2 Corinthians 9:6
He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,
and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

Mark 8:36
What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world,
and lose his own soul?

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

His love has no limit, His grace has no measure;
His power has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth and giveth and giveth again!
Annie Johnson Flint

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About meetingintheclouds

I am Cloudwatcher, a 76 year old Christian lady, happily married to a wonderful man for over 50 years. We have five wonderful sons, all with at least one University degree and in top positions in their chosen fields. One son is still single but four have found perfect wives and they have given us five lovely grandchildren. I was born in England and while I'm proud of my English heritage, I am doubly proud to be a true-blue, fair-dinkum Aussie. My husband and I are committed Christians whose first priority is to love and serve our risen Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. My life story will tell of my journey from abuse to peace. I suffered 22 years of abuse, being constantly told I was totally evil and an ugly freak: no one would ever want me, so I might as well do the world a favour and kill myself.
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33 Responses to WHEN VICTORY IS DEFEAT – a lesson from King Pyrrhus

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  8. snowgood says:

    Hello Angela,
    I’d never heard this terminology, but it seems to me you could write a follow up to this blog.
    “Time spent in the service of The King of Kings is never wasted”.

    Sadly too many folk over here are spent “in service of the church” and what ever rota is thrown at them. I’ve heard of two local ministers who’ve had breakdowns from trying to do God’s work for him, rather than doing what The Lord requires.

    A missionary came home from Africa recently and popped in to say hello. We were on this very subject and he lamented all the needless energy spent on allegedly doing The Lord’s work quoting The Lord himself.

    Matthew 11:30 – My yoke is easy, my burden is light.

    If ever there was averse for today’s western christian this is it!


    • So true Stephen.
      I have never understood the concept of ‘burnout’ in Christian service. I spent v-e-r-y long hours in ministry, including a number of times when we worked all through the night and continued through the next day. The Lord provided and they were times of extreme blessings. When He calls us to a work, He enables and sustains and He richly rewards our commitment.

      Having said that, I have also experienced sheer exhaustion after times of counselling – especially counselling in abuse cases. But once again, the Lord provides and a few moments in His presence brings uplifting as He takes the burden and refreshes and re-invigorates.

      When WE carry the burden ourselves, we will remain exhausted.
      When we hand the burden to HIM, we are refreshed and ready for His next assignment.


      • snowgood says:

        You are so right. I think back to last Summer working with the young children in Northern Hungary. We drove for hours and hours in a MiniBus that had no air con. Our spirits were high. At night it was too hot to sleep – somehow we were given supernatural strength.
        When we are doing what we feel obliged to do “for the Church” rather than in the service of the Gospel fatigue sets in. Have you ever listened to Francis Chan? He spoke so well on a visit to the UK.


  9. Thanks so much for sharing this Angela. There is always a great lesson to learn in your post. Your post reminded me of a quote I stumbled upon more than a year: “Men will spend their health getting wealth; then gladly pay all they have earned to get health back.

    God blesses.


    • Good quote Noel – and so true in many cases.
      Praise God that whatever we spend in the service of the King of kings, in reponse to His calling, we KNOW it will bring results. We may not actually see the results in this life, but the day is coming (soon) when we will be rewarded and be given the great privilege of laying them at the feet of Jesus, who alone is worthy!


  10. alwayzhis says:

    Also, very pleased to see you’re able to sit and write again. Your messages are filled with power as can only come from the Word—


  11. alwayzhis says:

    This is truly a wonderful, much needed post; even for Christians. Thank you sister Angela!
    Sending love in Jesus and blessings


    • Thank you Stephanie. This is a message the Lord gave me when I was feeling a bit ‘down’. Sometimes we tend to wonder why we do things, and think we are not getting anywhere, but one thing is absolutely certain. When we follow our Lord’s calling, He also enables and empowers us to do what He asks, and although we do not always see the result of our effort, we KNOW that He will fulfill His purpose in the task He gives us. The work is His, but He gives us the victory – maybe at the time, but certainly in the future.
      We serve an incredibly amazing God!


  12. Anna Popescu says:

    Yay, you’re back, Cloudwatcher! :-) This is a great post. “Time spent in the service of the King of kings is NEVER wasted.” Indeed!



    • Amen Anna! I’m afraid we are all guilty of wasting many opportunities throughout our lives, but time spent in following the call of our Lord is NEVER wasted. We don’t always see the results of our service, but one day soon we will know how HE used us to fulfill His purposes. It is ALL HIS work, and yet He rewards us for being faithful. What a tremendous joy it will be to lay our crowns at His feet and worship Him sincerely, with no distractions!


  13. Rob Barkman says:

    Great lesson for this Father’s Day season. It is just as you say… there are many well meaning men who choose to “work their life away” for the sake of making wealth which will supply all of their families needs, wants and desires. I believe in God’s sight it is far better to meet a families needs and spend quality time with them (leading them to Christ through example and teaching) then to meet all their wants and desires and forsake giving them the greatest riches of all… The Lord and His Word.

    Thanks for the wonderful posting. Lord bless you, Angela.


    • I hadn’t connected with Father’s Day as we in Oz celebrate that day in September. Thanks for adding that.

      Looking back over many years, I can think of many wasted hours in various pursuits . . . but not a single wasted moment in the service of the King of kings! He calls us to a task, enables and empowers us to do it – and then rewards us, even though it was His doing! Amazing!


  14. ptl2010 says:

    His love has no limit, His grace has no measure;
    His power has no boundary known unto men;
    For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
    He giveth and giveth and giveth again!

    Amen! I have experienced this and can testify to it.


    • Thanks Evelyn. Yes, we can testify of the enormity of His love, mercy, grace and power that He constantly showers on us.

      What an incredibly amazing God who loves us with an everlasting love, enables us to serve Him in His power, and rewards us for doing so!


  15. Pure Glory says:

    With Christ we have victory. So glad it is not s Pyrrhic victory but true victory!


  16. Debbie says:

    Thank you for another great analogy for us to consider and put into action! I hadn’t hear of Prryhus either, but am loving that with Jesus our victory and hope is sure!
    God bless you, Mentor Angela! Praying that you and yours are well!


    • Thanks Debbie. I really miss your ‘simple poems’ but still have you and Aub on my prayer list. I have been unable to sit at the computer for about a month, but I am now back and trying to catch up.

      We do so much in life without being sure of the results, but we can praise God for His faithfulness and that everything we do in His service is guaranteed to bring His blessings. We don’t serve for that reason. We would serve even if we were not rewarded, simply as a response to His enormous love, mercy and grace towards us, but we know the time is coming (soon) when we will have the greatest pleasure of all time – laying our crowns at His feet.


  17. I had not heard of King Pyrrhus. Thank you so much for the history lesson and also the life application. Well done. I am going to share this at my Ladies Bible Study, I have found that they love learning new tidbits here and there.


  18. πίστις says:

    Amen well said. :)


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