Best of Daily Reflections: How Should Christians Deal with Losing?

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
9916669806 8f69756df0 k

And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

Acts 1:15-17

I sat across the table from him at P.F. Chang’s, listening to his story while I clumsily aimed my chopsticks at a shrimp.

“I keep coming in second,” he said, while he slurped some hot and sour soup from those spoons that mustn’t be tipped toward you.

“There was First Church. And then Central United. And now Grace Church. Three times. I keep getting close to being chosen, but they go with someone else.”

A very talented and experienced pastor, he was uncharacteristically forlorn and down. Stuck in a position he felt no longer suited him, he kept coming in second place with pastoral search committees.

In our competitive American ethos, it’s hard not to be chosen. We value the one who gets the nod and forget those passed up. How many presidential candidates can you name, for example, who came in second?

And then, what if God chose another over you? How would you feel?

We find this very thing happening in Acts 1. The loss of Judas Iscariot meant there were only eleven disciples soon to be apostles, not a good biblical number. A twelfth was needed. They found two qualified candidates: Matthias and a fellow named Joseph who was also known as Barabbas but his friends called him Justus.

The early Jesus followers decided to let God decide who would be chosen to round out the twelve and become an apostle. Today, we pay thousands of dollars to recruiters to find the right match for a position, but the early Jesus community cast dice to decide—a method not entirely without warrant in those days to discern divine favor among equal choices.

The lot fell to Matthias. Joseph a.k.a. Barabbas a.k.a. Justus came in second. Not chosen by God.

And so you don’t see Justus on the iconostasis of the twelve, nor in fine byzantine mosaics; no Justus on those stained glass commemorations of the apostles who gave up so much to be witnesses to the risen Lord.

In fact, Justus disappears from biblical history entirely. Well, so does Matthias. But at least Matthias was chosen! And by God! And you see his image often in various artful depictions of the twelve.

Perhaps what is in question here is not Justus’ fate but our status idolatry.

We have every indication that Justus was chosen by God as a child of God, gifted and called for a ministry. He just wasn’t chosen for a specific role in the church that we have, at times, elevated in ways that turn it into something never intended.

So many of our frustrations with life result from our inability to obtain a loftier stature: more fame, a higher position, more money, more recognition—while all along Jesus may be saying to us, “I’ve placed you right where I want you and gifted you for it.”

Now, be content and flourish where you are!


In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred twenty persons) and said, "Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus—for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry."

So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection."

So they proposed two, Joseph called Barabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed and said, "Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place."

And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

Acts 1:15-17, 21-26

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Are you content? If not, is your discontent driven by motives (e.g. seeking fame, fortune) that will never satisfy you? Or is it a holy discontent, meant to move you on to God’s next place for you? Or have you become too contented with a place you’ve outgrown and need to listen for God’s leading?

PRAYER: Lord, make clear to us when you would have us pack up and move or be still and securely rooted. Help us distinguish when we’re called to strive to become something new or be content with what you’ve made us. Help us be gracious when we are not chosen for a position full of honor because it isn’t right for us. In the Savior’s Name. Amen.

P. S. from Marcus Goodyear, acting Editor-in-Chief: Dave Peterson is on vacation for two weeks, and I have asked George Cladis to fill in for him. George is a wonderful pastor who has worked with The High Calling for over a decade, contributing regularly to our sermon notes series and even serving on our board of advisors several years ago. We know you'll enjoy his insights into Scripture this week.