I don’t like failing. Do you? I don’t know really anyone who enjoys losing or doing things consistently wrong or being a failure at a certain thing. Have you ever had someone in your life make you feel like you were a failure? Sure, maybe you had actually failed at some things, and maybe there was a pattern developing, but we always hope that the pattern will end, and we will do a lot of things to put a stop to that pattern so we don’t have to look like a failure or be called a failure. We tend to not be big fans of people who condemn us for failing.
I know many who would equate this “people who condemn us for failing” with “the modern church.” We as a church haven’t done the best with loving and communicating truth in love. We tend to be on one pole or the other: loving everyone and condoning sin, or truthfully calling sin sin with no relationship and just cold, loveless facts.
There is a story in 1 Samuel that reveals Samuel lovingly rebuking and discipling the people of Israel in a way that is both loving and truthful. Here we have it in 1 Samuel 12:20:
“Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart.”
This verse is sandwiched between two verses speaking of the fear of the LORD the Israelites should have, in verses 14 and 24. Both of these verses encourage the Israelites that if they fear the LORD and serve Him and obey Him then things will be different. They don’t have to chase after their normal idols and fall into their old habits. They can instead choose different. They can choose to follow and obey God. Samuel rebuked them, reminding them that they had actually done this evil thing and failed, but all was not lost. They were not finished. God was not done with them yet. They had a responsibility to turn to God and serve Him and He could and would still use them.
We started off talking about failure. When is the last time you failed in your walk with God? My guess is, if you’re anything like me, you probably failed earlier today. But, here is the encouragement: though you and I have failed today, God is still faithful today. In fact, if we do not turn away from the LORD and keep sinning and failing, but we serve Him with all our heart and follow after Him, then our lives will be transformed and we will be rescued from our sins. 1 John 1:9 encourages us that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to clean us up from all of our unrighteousness. God cleans us up. This means we have come to Him messy, not having cleaned our own selves up!
Here is the action point:
- When (not if) you fail, turn your failure into a following after God.
- Remember that Romans 8:1 says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who have a relationship with Him.
- Turn from your failure to God and run after Him, follow Him, obey Him.
Let your faith in God and His forgiveness, not your failure, determine your future.