Summary: A sermon on how God can use failure to make us a success in heaven’s eyes.
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—maybe in a specific subject like math or history--- maybe an entire grade. People fail at business. People fail in marriage, fail in parenting, fail in their careers….people fail the Lord. In that last category the Bible says we have all failed.
Romans 3:12 They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.
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:
I. SATAN WANTS TO USE FAILURE TO DRAG YOU DOWN. (v. 31)
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 overcomes 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= ya’ll. 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? I know what I would’ve said. Lord, You didn’t tell him he could touch me, did you? After all, you and I are close, and I’m your main man! You did tell him no, didn’t you Jesus…?
Jesus doesn’t directly answer that question, but we know what the answer is, don’t we? Jesus goes on to say after you’ve come back to me…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. My mom used to have a flour sifter, to separate the soft flour from the lumps. This kind of separation takes a lot of stirring up and shaking around, which is exactly what’s going to happen to Peter (see vs. 34).
Peter, my Friend, the man I nicknamed Rocky---you’re going to fail Me. Satan asked to shake you up, and I’ve give 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 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7that 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.