Pursuing Christlikeness Through "Failure"

Kay Arthur , Precepts for Life

May 11, 2009

Have you ever had to deal with failure? That's a silly question, isn't it! I'm sure you have. I have. Yet, we might not think it is a silly question to ask, because sometimes we think that failure is not the common lot of people, for they are not as we are. If we are honest, we all have to deal with the feelings of disappointment, defeat, depression, and even the despair failure brings when it is not dealt with in a biblical way.

You are not alone in your failure. Those whom you may look at and even envy or wish you could change places with have failed at one time or another. In fact, if the truth were known, they probably are dealing with the feeling of failure to one degree or another in one or more areas of their lives.

As you read this, you may feel alone. You may feel like the biggest failure. You may think there is no recovery, but I have good news for you! If you will take God at His Word (and it is printed out for you in black and white in the Bible), your failure will become a stepping stone to greater Christlikeness and intimacy with God. Failure will become a means to an end, rather than the end!

I say this because to fail is to be humbled. Failure makes us aware of our own impotence, our imperfections, our shortcomings. Failure brings us low. And if we respond properly by humbling ourselves before our heavenly Father, then according to James 4:10, we will find Him exalting us. And when God exalts us, after we experience the humiliation and defeat of failing, then His exaltation is a safe exaltation rather than a source of pride which only and eventually leads to greater defeat and failure.

So in the light of this, let's look at failure. To fail means that . . . you didn't measure up, you didn't achieve your goal, you didn't hit the standard you or someone else had set, you didn't accomplish what you thought you should accomplish or wanted to achieve.

In a sense, this is where life begins-in a state of failure. David, the Psalmist wrote, ". . . in sin my mother conceived me" (Psalm 51:5). To sin is to miss the mark, the standard set by God. It is to fall short-to fail to be what we are to be. All mankind is born into that state. Romans 3:23 says, " . . . all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

Consequently, we are all slated for failure unless we turn to God.

Christianity is God's means of bringing us out of failure! But it is a process-and that is what so many of us forget in our relationships and dealings with others and in our understanding of ourselves and of where we are in the process of sanctification.

By sanctification, I mean the living of our lives in such a way as to know, believe, and embrace what God says so that we order our actions and thoughts according to His precepts and, thus, experience success rather than defeat!

Remember, the world's definition of success is far different from God's, and that is only logical since the world does not know God, fear God, or trust God. So you must not measure yourself or your success by the world's standard. To do so would be foolish. You are in the world but not of the world.

Therefore, what the world considers "failure" may not be failure at all. For instance, if you did not meet your goals today, it does not mean that you failed; but if you violate one of God's principles or precepts, that would be failure-and that can be handled immediately by repentance and confession.

God and obedience to His precepts take us from failure to success by humbling us to the point where we know the only way to genuinely succeed, or to be blameless, is through Him. "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory BLAMELESS with great joy . . . " (Jude 1:24, emphasis added).

So, how does one recover from falling short? How does one go from stumbling to standing?

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