One thing which is common to all people is that we all fail. There is not one person who hasn’t failed – some more than others. We can fail at many things — simple things such as a driving test; learning a new skill or to complete a project on time. Or much bigger failures such as a marriage breakdown or debt from overspending. For Christians however, there are certain things we need to avoid and these are much more serious failures — keeping away from sinful activities (ie drunkenness, gambling, sexual promiscuity etc.); love of money, failing to trust the Lord in all things, using the Lord’s name in vain and there are many other examples.
For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. (James 3:2)
But the most important thing is how we handle failure. The Canadian actress Mary Pickford reportedly said “To fall is not to fail, unless you fail to get up again”. The Bible also has something to say about this – these are the words of the wise man Solomon:
For a righteous man may fall seven times And rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity. (Proverbs 24:16)
Failure should never stop us from getting back on our feet and trying again. We all make mistakes and we all fail — but acknowledging our failures and doing something about them is what is important.
If we fail a driving test, we need to learn some more and re-try. If we struggle with saving money, seek help, ask for advice on what you can do. If our marriage is struggling, talk to a marriage counsellor or work out where the problems are and start fixing your marriage. If you find yourself in places that are likely to lead to risky behaviour, avoid these places—ask a friend to pull you up if you are heading in the wrong direction, seek help.
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:10)
Failure isn’t limited to the young, we all fail, men and women, young and old. Men of strong faith are just as liable to fail as their weaker companions, and often they fail in a most appalling way. We shouldn’t get over-confident that we won’t fail, as this is probably the time when we will!
Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12)
Some of our failures are due to selfish desires—gambling, having an affair to name two. We can also fail our families by being too career focused (this can affect men just as much as women) and not paying enough attention to our families or not being home when they need us. Women can get so carried away with their homes, it becomes an idol and once again they fail their families and God.
We need to accept that we have failed in the past and work hard to make sure we limit our failures in the future. The worst thing we can do is worry about past failures for this will just compound into yet more failures in the future. We need to train hard, we need to pray lots and we need to have our focus on God and not on ourselves. God does forgive our sins and He does help us up when we fall. But He isn’t happy if we keep failing on the same things, this means we haven’t learnt from our failures and we see nothing wrong it what we are doing. If you see a friend constantly making the same mistakes, step in and help. God is displeased if you sit back and do nothing, He wants friends to help each other.
Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
Many women often think they have failed when it comes to rearing their children, keeping their homes clean, cooking healthy meals or caring for their husbands. Women tend to be harsh on themselves and most do not fail at all and really are doing a good job. Don’t beat yourself up when you fail or think you have failed. Just keep on trying and pray if you feel that you are heading in the wrong direction and just remember . . .
I can do all things through Christ[a] who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)