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a gambit

The Queen’s Gambit has been a top trending contender on Netflix since October. The main character, Beth, was sent to a Christian orphanage at the age of eight. Apparently, tranquilizers kept the girls in line, so Beth develops a bad addition. As the story unfolds, a traumatized, socially awkward orphan grows up to be a pretty, but not an especially warm kind of pretty, substance-abusing chess genius.

So why is everyone watching it? “In a world where every news development seems more implausible than the last,” writes Sara Stewart of CNN, “there is something infinitely reassuring in retreating to a series about a cerebral game, in which nobody cheats. A loss is followed by a handshake, and the boys and men who are vanquished by Beth are, to varying degrees, impressed with her prowess even in their defeat.”

Nobody cheats? A loss is followed by a handshake? Truth and grace matter.

Paul reminds us “to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (Titus 3:2).

Why must we “show perfect courtesy toward all people”? Paul explains: “for we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy” (Titus 3:3). It’s embarrassing but we used to cheat to win and pout like sore losers. “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,” we now “insist on” devoting ourselves to the good work of showing perfect courtesy to all (Titus 3:4-8).

In chess, a gambit refers to the opening moves—all made by pawns. Apparently, you don’t have to be a genius. If you are willing to humbly sacrifice a few pieces, you may gain a strategic position later in the game. Your move.

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