Summary: Big Idea: A person is not finished when he fails; a person is finished when he gives up.

How to Fail Without Becoming a Failure

Luke 22:31-22:34

Kurt Cobain. The famous rock singer-songwriter, musician, and best known as the lead singer and guitarist of the band Nirvana, has sold over 50 million albums worldwide. During the last years of his life, Cobain struggled with heroin addiction and depression. On April 8, 1994, Cobain was found dead at his home in Seattle, he committed suicide by a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head.

Ernest Hemingway. The famous and best-selling writer, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature, was well known for his adventurous spirit and distinctive writing style. He ended his career as an alcoholic and He committed suicide at age 62.

Adolf Merckle. German billionaire, one of top 100 richest people in world, commits suicide after he ran into deep financial trouble; he lost hundreds of millions of dollars with his companies amid the economic crisis.

This morning I want to talk to you about how to fail without becoming a failure. What’s the difference?

Everybody fails. People fail in school. People fail at business. People fail in marriage, fail in parenting, fail in their careers….people fail the Lord. Everybody fails. The question is not ‘how bad the failure is’… the question is “how good the response to the failure is’…

Big Idea: A person is not finished when he fails; a person is finished when he gives up.

As hard as it is to admit, you and I and every one of us have all failed. But just because you fail doesn’t mean you are a failure. There is a big difference. A really good example is the difference between two of Jesus’ disciples: Simon Peter and Judas Iscariot. Both men failed Christ—Peter by denying his Lord, Judas by betraying his Lord. But Judas ends up a failure, drowning so deep in regret and despair he commits suicide. Peter, on the other hand, seems to get past his failure and becomes one of the most important leaders of the early church.

What made the difference between failing and being a failure? I think you can get some clues from a conversation between Jesus and Simon Peter recorded in Luke 22:31-34. The words of Jesus are an encouragement to Peter---an encouragement for everybody who fails---about how to handle failure, to get past your failing to become the person God created you to be.

Jesus’ words to Peter give us 3 truths to encourage us when we fail:


Jesus’ words are spoken after the Last Supper, after Judas has left to betray the Lord to his enemies. After the disciples have argued over who is the greatest in Christ’s kingdom. Jesus’ love for Peter overwhelms Him, and I believe it’s with tears in His eyes He looks at Peter, and says Simon! Simon! Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat…!

The “you” here is plural -- “you all.” Jesus isn’t just speaking to Peter—He’s saying all of you will be sifted. Stop for a moment and ask yourself: What if Jesus looked at you with love in His heart and tears in His eyes and said those words to you?

In plain words, Jesus is letting Peter know I have given Satan permission to sift you as wheat… You know what it means to sift don’t you? It means to separate. Farmers use to sift grain to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Peter, you’re going to fail Me. Satan asked to shake you up, and I’ve given him permission to do his worst. His plans are to use your failure to drag you away from Me, to pull you down so deep into discouragement and low in despair you never come out alive.

That’s Satan’s plan for you, too. He wants to shake you up, to use your failures to drag you so low that you give in and give up. You need to remember that.

Something else you need to remember is that even though Satan hates you, Jesus loves you. He loves you just as much as He loved Peter, yet He allows the devil to sift Peter, and He allows the devil to sift you. Why? I think Peter himself gives us the answer in

1 Peter 1:6-7

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

The testing of your faith is precious to the Lord, because it is through testing and even failure, your faith is purified and you bring Him praise, honor, and glory. Do you get up after your failure and keep going, or do you give up and turn back? The devil is betting you give up; the Lord is counting on you to keep persevering, keep believing even when you fail.

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