Summary: God views "success" differently than we do. God looks at "faithfulness" as His standard for determining "success". Examples are given as to some "Successful Failures", such as Isaiah, Jeremiah and Peter.
“Success And Failure”
INTRODUCTION: Everybody wants to be successful … or a part of something successful. BUT … I had to ask myself, “What does SUCCESSFUL mean?”
You want to be a “successful” parent … RIGHT? (our series on Sunday nights) What does that mean? Does it mean that your kids grow up to be doctors, lawyers, preachers, teachers? Are you a “successful” parent if your son is still a bag-boy at Publix at the age of 28? If your children haven’t come to Christ, have you been a “successful” parent? What determines “success”?
You want to be a “successful” husband/wife … RIGHT? What does that mean? Does it mean that you have no problems in your marriage? Are you a “successful” wife if your husband doesn’t attend church with you? Are you a “successful” husband if your wife won’t let you buy that new pick-up truck you’ve always wanted?
How do we determine “success”, anyway? Many people determine “success” by comparing themselves with other people. They think that if you can’t buy what other people have, then you aren’t successful.
Some people think that you’re not “successful” if you haven’t climbed as far up the ladder of “success” as somebody else.
Some Pastors have a problem with this. What determines a “successful” Pastor? The size of his church … the number of baptisms a year … his salary … his prestige in the community … the vehicle he drives?
Let me give you a verse that might help you. 1 Corinthians 4:2 – All turn. NOTICE that, it doesn’t say “successful” … but “faithful”.
God looks at “success” differently than we do. When God looks at you, He doesn’t look to see how “successful” you’ve been … but how “faithful” you’ve been.
NOW … let me answer some of the questions I raised earlier. Does it mean you are a FAILURE as a parent if your children don’t turn out the way you expect them to … the way you raised them? NO! NOT IF you have been FAITHFUL to God in being the Christian parent you ought to be. Does it mean you are a FAILURE as a husband/wife if your mate isn’t all that he/she should be? NO! NOT IF you have been FAITHFUL to God in being the Christian husband/wife you ought to be.
Certainly, we are going to make mistakes in life. And do you know what? God understands that. Everybody has failed in the Christian life … EXCEPT one person … Jesus. Jesus sees your FAILURES differently than we do. AND … He sees SUCCESS differently than we do.
What is the most important thing to our Lord? “faithfulness”. AND … MAYBE you are more of a SUCCESS, and less of a FAILURE than you think you are.
I want us this morning to take a look at some “Successful Failures” in the Bible. Somebody once said, “If there’s one thing I’m successful at … it’s failing!” Let’s take a look at some FAMOUS FAILURES:
1.-ISAIAH – Isaiah 6:8-12 – all turn
God told Isaiah to preach a very unpopular message … a message of REPENTANCE. Right from the beginning, God told him that he was going to FAIL! There wouldn’t be any repentance … only judgment. Isaiah was going on a suicide mission!
Isaiah failed to turn the nation of Israel to God. AND … he considered himself a FAILURE. He ended up sawed in half for his efforts … killed as a martyr … thinking he was a failure.
YET … How do WE see Isaiah? Isaiah was one of the greatest Hebrew writers who ever lived. What he wrote, was to be completed and fulfilled by Christ Himself. Over & over we read in the New Testament that what Jesus did was “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet Isaiah.” Jesus quoted Isaiah when He preached. It’s quite an honor to be quoted in a sermon … and Isaiah was quoted by Jesus … the utmost honor!
John the Baptist quoted Isaiah as his text for his sermons on repentance. Philip quoted from Isaiah when he witnessed to the Ethiopian eunuch to show him Christ. Paul used Isaiah’s writings to turn the Gentiles to Christ … quoting him 5 times in the book of Romans. The study of prophecy is incomplete without the book of Isaiah.
A FAILURE? Maybe in the eyes of the world. Maybe even in his own eyes. BUT … not in the eyes of God. WHY? BECAUSE … Isaiah was “faithful”. AND … that’s what counts most to God. 1 Cor. 4:2 – “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”
2.- JEREMIAH – Jeremiah 11:19, 12:6
Jeremiah was called by God when he was a young man … a young “Preacher-Boy”. It’s tough when you’re young in the ministry. By all human standards, Jeremiah was a FAILURE in the ministry.