“From His abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.” (John 1:16 NLT)
Failure, like so many areas and activities of our lives, is relative. Some, unfamiliar with the truth behind Jesus’ sacrifice, would dare say He was a failure. After all, a bright, young, Rabbi got Himself murdered on a cross at age 33. “What a waste!” some would conclude. Yet, Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross led to His greatest triumph on Easter Sunday morning.
In our more lucid moments, we’ll often be forced to admit that our most valuable life-lessons were learned in the wake of failure. I could fill a lot of pages listing all of my failures, but the truth is, much of what I write has been learned by the Holy Spirit’s instruction as a result of the times I’ve fallen or failed.
Henry Ford said: “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
Two pictures come to mind when I think of failure. One is found in John 18 that records the three times Peter denied that he even knew Jesus. The second is found in Matthew 26 which records Judas’ betrayal of Jesus with a kiss.
Abraham Lincoln said: “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.” The reality is, we’ve all failed, not only in the course of life, but, if we profess faith in the Risen One, we’ve all failed Him. It’s called sin, and, according to Scripture, we’ve all “been there, done that.” It’s never a question of “if we sin,” it’s only a matter of how often and how we respond.
That Peter and Judas sinned is no surprise to anyone. How they sinned is what raises the hair on the back of our necks. And, sadly, it’s not uncommon for us to say or think: “How could they? Why, I’d never…!” But if you’ll remember, that’s what each of the disciples said prior to Jesus’ execution (Matthew 26:35).
Failure can lead to despair, depression, and self-execution, either by a rope, as Judas chose, or by our continued inability to believe Christ could/would forgive us. Rather than confess our sin and receive forgiveness and the fulness of the Spirit’s indwelling, we wallow in our failure and nullify any good that Christ might have gained through us.
Einstein said: “Success is failure in progress.” Whatever measure of sensitivity to the Lord’s leading we have will largely depend on how quickly and truthfully, we confess our failure and turn from it. If our confession of sin simply seeks to put a Band-Aid on the cancer of our addiction to sin, not much is going to change in our life.
It’s not until, like Peter, we go out and weep bitterly, not because we were “caught” in our sin, but because we realize the deep, deep debt of gratitude we owe the Lord for giving us another opportunity to get it right. It’s no accident that Peter became the preeminent leader of the early church. It wasn’t his greatness as a man or even as a leader, it was his willingness to repent and turn from his failure, relying solely on the fullness only Jesus could provide.
How about you? Like Judas, will you give Satan the upper hand and allow him to rob you of your “life?” Hopefully, you won’t literally take your life, but if you’re not intentional in pursuing forgiveness and fullness in Christ, you run the risk of becoming simply another religious robot, going through the motions of religiosity. Your concern will focus more on how others view you than how Jesus views the people in your spheres of influence who are lost, heading for a Christless eternity.
Choose, rather, to respond like Peter, seeking Christ, not only for forgiveness, which is vital, but allowing Him to make you more effective for Him than you ever dared dream you could be. You and I are only as effective as our willingness to confess our sin and believe in His limitless Lordship to fill, empower, and enable us to overcome our sin, doubt, and fear, and move forward in the power and anointing of His Holy Presence with us.
Failure or fullness? Which will you choose? Remembering, it’s a choice we are continually making.
Blessings, Ed 😊