There’s a story told of a preacher who was preaching a message about the fact that no one is perfect.
To prove his point he asked for anyone who was perfect to stand up. To his surprise, one man stood up in the middle of the congregation.
“Do you really think you’re perfect?” The preacher asked.
“Oh no! I’m not perfect,” said the man. “But I’m standing up on behalf of my wife’s deceased first husband!”
Some people act like they’re perfect. Or our faulty memory thinks our loved ones are or were perfect.
I recently read a facebook post by a friend who was told by a fellow Christian that he rarely sinned. He opined that he was not a sinner, but a saint. Actually, as my friend observed we can be both sinners and saints at the same time. Saints can and do sin.
The Bible reminds us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). We fail. We fall short of the mark. We sin. To Christians, the beloved John wrote, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 Jn 1:-8-9)
As Christians we are not perfect, but we are pardoned. We’re not sinless, but we’re sanctified. We’re not faultless, but we’re forgiven. We learn that our failures don’t have to be final or fatal.
“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker,” wrote Denis Waitley. “Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead-end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Denis Waitley
However, our failures (sins), can sometimes discourage us to the point of giving up. Have you ever looked back at something you said or did, and shook your head in disbelief? “Why did I do that?” “Why did I say that?” “Why did I give in to that temptation?”
I might be well to remember that some of God’s greatest heroes failed. Some miserably.
Noah got drunk.
Paul persecuted Christians.
Yet, they didn’t quit. They didn’t allow failure to define them, discourage them or defeat them. Their failures were forgiven. And they pressed on toward the prize. That’s what we must do.
We must be willing to admit our failures. Confess our shortcomings. And repent of our sins. We are a work in progress. Ever striving to be conformed to Christ instead of our culture (Rom. 8:29; 12:1-2).
The late and legendary basketball coach John Wooden reminds us, “Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.” Or as the great British statesman, Winston Churchill observed, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” The Christian life is about change. Growth. And persistence.
Like the apostle Peter, we can begin again. We can put together the broken pieces. Refocus our eyes on Jesus. And even with our past flaws be restored to faithful service. Let us pray as David did: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit” (Ps 51:12).
There is hope. There is help. There is healing.
There is a forgiving and gracious God.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman