Question: "What does the Bible say about failure?"
Answer: To fail from time to time is only human, but to be a “failure” is when we are defeated by failure, refusing to rise and try again. Christians sometimes believe they should be immune to failure by virtue of their relationship with God, but the truth is that God often allows us to fail for a variety of reasons. Job 14:1 says, "Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.” That doesn’t say “unbelievers” or “the ungodly.” It says man born of woman. What does that mean? Everyone. Life is full of trouble, even for those who belong to God through faith in Christ. We are to expect it. This means God does not promise life to be without problems, sorrow, and, yes, failure, just because we believe in Him.
Luke 9:1-5 describes how Jesus sent His disciples out to preach the gospel and perform miracles. He also taught them how to handle failure. “If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them." Jesus wanted the soon-to-be apostles to model themselves after Him. He gave them power and authority over devils, power to heal the sick, etc. Most of all, Jesus wanted them to have boldness. He knew that not everyone was going to receive the truth about Him, but in saying “Shake the dust from your feet,” He meant for them to move on and plow forward. Witnessing and being rejected can make us feel like failures, but if we understand we are to expect it (John 15:18), what appears to be failure actually becomes a badge of honor.
When we feel failure come against us, our first reaction may be to run or give up. When it comes to sin, we are all capable of avoiding it. Even in complete love, faith and devotion to God, we can fall, but God is not shocked by this which is why He sent His Son to die for our sins. We get back up again, and we start over. But we should know that we cannot do it alone. We must keep our eyes on our Savior, following and obeying Him and laying aside the sin that inevitably leads to spiritual failure, as Hebrews 12:1 says, “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” God has marked out a course for each of us, and sometimes that course includes failure. But when we cling to the Savior, even our failures can be turned into successes by the One who controls all things and who strengthens us in our weakness (Philippians 4:11-13). Our ultimate victory in Jesus is assured, but complete victory will only come when we are out of this world of temptation and safe in the arms of the Lord in heaven.
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