Summary: Abraham Lincoln suffered a string of failures before he was elected to the presidency. His country store went out of business. As a young lawyer he had trouble getting clients. He was defeated in his campaigns for the state legislature, the House of Repre
FREE TO FAIL
Abraham Lincoln suffered a string of failures before he was elected to the presidency. His country store went out of business. As a young lawyer he had trouble getting clients. He was defeated in his campaigns for the state legislature, the House of Representatives, the Senate and the Vice Presidency. Yet very few, if any, Americans have had more impact on our history than he.
No one learns to make right decisions without being free to make wrong ones.
Matthew 25:24&25 24“Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
and Philippians 4:1313I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
are two very different statements. One was made by a man who was afraid to fail and did nothing. The other was made by a man who was free to fail and did everything.
As far as the biblical record is concerned, some of the greatest achievements in the history of God’s kingdom have come from very ordinary, imperfect people who have overcome failure to be used of God in a significant way. Their lives model some biblical principles for overcoming failure.
I. Do not try to hide or conceal your failures.
A. Some people spend their lives trying to cover-up their mistakes.
1. They become “prisoners of pretense,” retreating into fabrication and delusion.
2. Their entire lives become a charade, a great hypocrisy.
B. The first step in overcoming our failures is to admit them.
1. We must be willing to honestly confess them before God and seek his forgiveness and restoration
(1 John 1:8-9).8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
2. If there is any place where we should be able to admit our failures, it is the church. Christians are not perfect, just forgiven.
II. Do not be discouraged by your failures.
A. When you fail in life, you are in good company. Sir Walter Scott, Thomas Edison, Richard Byrd, Walt Disney all were considered failures before they went on to their greatest achievements.
B. In the Bible, too, we read of failures whom God took and used to accomplish great things in his service.
1. He took a slave hiding as a fugitive from justice and used him to deliver an entire nation from bondage.
2. He took a woman who failed in marriage seven times and used her to win a city to the Savior.
3. He took a crooked tax collector and made him into an apostle and a biographer of the Christ.
4. He took a man who failed Christ in his darkest hour, denying Him three times, and used him to open the doors to the kingdom of God.
C. He can do the same thing in our lives. God does not easily give up on His children. Like the tireless potter bending over the spoiled clay, He yet desires to make something good and noble of our lives
(Jeremiah 18:1-6). 1This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2“Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” 3So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
5Then the word of the LORD came to me: 6“O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.
III. Do not let fear of failure keep you from attempting great things for God.
A. Some people are petrified at the thought of failure.
1. They would rather face anything than the ego shattering experience of trying something and having it end in failure.
2. So they adopt a “play-it-safe” philosophy and end up not doing anything at all. Just like the steward in the story of the talents they bury their potential in the ground and end up standing before their Master with little in their hands.
B. It is not until we are free to fail that we are free to succeed.
1. No one was more free to fail than Jesus. It is impossible to look like a success when you are hanging on a cross. Yet he let it happen. In selfless abandonment to the will of God. He was free to fail in the eyes of man that He might succeed in the eyes of God.