Summary: 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
FREE TO FAIL
Matthew 25:25 “And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.” and Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” are two very different statements.
The first was made by a man who was AFRAID to fail and did nothing. The other statement 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. DON’T 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 lies 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 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
2. If there is any place where we should be able to admit our failures, it is the church. As the old saying goes, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.”
II. DON’T BE DISCOURAGED BY YOUR FAILURES.
A. When you fail in life, you are in good company. Thomas Edison and Walt Disney were both 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. Moses may have been raised in the palace of the Pharaoh but he was still an Israelite slave.
2. He took a woman who failed in marriage seven times and used her to win people to the Savior. Woman at the well
3. He took a crooked tax collector and made him into an apostle and a biographer of the Christ. Zaccheus.
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. Peter.
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 18:7).
III. DON’T 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.
Ever heard of Agor-aphobia? The fear of going outside.
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 freer 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.
2. If the church cannot risk failure in the sight of men, how can we succeed in the sight of God?
In Christ we are called to be secure enough in God’s grace to conquer our fear of failure. We are called to be free enough in our faith to take the risks that bring reward.
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.