Failblog #6: Failproofing

By November 3, 2014 failblog No Comments

Failblog – Failproofing

This morning, we cap off our Failblog series.  In this series, we have learned that everybody fails.  We all fail.  We stressed that in week one and walked away with a few precepts.

We are not above the fail so we should approach the topic with a rather large dose of humility, a modest opinion or estimation of our own importance.  Paul says in Rom 12:3 Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment.

Further, we should be slow to make fun of or amplify or publicize other peoples’ fails.  We are called to do to others what we would want others to do to us.

Additionally, since we all fail, why hide it?  We should be less fearful of others knowing of our fails.

When we fail, wallowing in sorrow or self-pity doesn’t help the situation. The best response to failure is to figure out how to move forward; to learn from our failures to avoid making the same mistake again.

We also saw that not all fails are created equal.   There are fails that don’t really make a ripple in the pond (like the ones on failblog.org), and then there are those that make waves.  Some fails don’t really even affect others; other fails have a major impact on others and even change the course of history forever.  

Some fails are more significant than others due to their damaging effects on our relationships not only with others but with God; these are immoral, unethical fails in disobedience to God, which the Bible calls sin.  And we learned the good news that though all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus (Rom 3:23-24). 

We also saw that the best of the best fail, biblical giants fail, men of reknown fail, pillars of the faith fail.  And we looked at some pretty epic fails of some mighty men.

We learned some pretty practical precepts by looking at these fails and we also saw that there are practical earthly consequences for our fails since one reaps what he sows.

We looked first at Moses.  With Moses, we saw that God told Moses to speak to the rock, but Moses struck the rock, not once, but twice.  In that, we learned that Partial obedience is not exactly obedience.  Obedience requires going the distance.  For Moses, going the whole distance would have been to trust in God enough to honor him as holy in the sight of the Israelites to give God the glory and magnify His name among the people.

It is for our ultimate good to seek to bring God glory, to seek to honor his Name.

As a consequence of his fail, Moses was not permitted to lead the people into the Land.

Then we looked at David.  In David’s fail, we saw the importance of integrity, doing what is right even when no one is watching.  It is for our good and God’s glory to do what we are supposed to do when we are supposed to do it.  We also learned to be careful not to magnify the fails of others to the neglect or oversight of our own fails (that man deserves to die…you are that man…oops);we should own our own fails.  As a consequence of David’s fail with Bathsheba, the sword would not depart from his house and his house would essentially become the inspiration for soap operas in the 20th century.

Then we looked at Peter.  In the fail of Peter we learned a Bieber-ism, never say never.  I tailored it to be a little more palatable and universal; we should be slow to use the term never.  We are not above any fail.  We may one day find ourselves failing in the way that we thought we would never fail.  The consequences for Peter’s fail were inward, heartfelt guilt, sorrow, and shame.  And with Peter’s fail, the denial of Jesus, he learned and we learned that it is better to suffer for the name of Jesus than to deny it, that suffering for being a Christian shouldn’t come as a surprise, one should rejoice in participating in the sufferings of Christ, not be ashamed, but to praise God that you bear that name.

Finally we looked at Paul.  Before he was Paul the Apostle advocate of Jesus, he was Saul of Tarsus opponent of Jesus.  He was zealous for his cause.  In looking at Paul we learned that it is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.  We learned to be gracious with others who don’t share our view because after all, tradition isn’t always right, that which is popular isn’t always right and we aren’t always right.  Zeal should be reserved for things we have studied thoroughly and only when we have honestly considered the alternative(s).

With the fails of both Peter and Paul, we find our faith strengthened because if Jesus never actually rose from the dead, if that was all a fabrication, a made up story, then neither Peter nor Paul never would have continued preaching Jesus with boldness against the direct orders of the religious leaders. 

One glorious truth that I hope we walk away with from this series is that our fails don’t have to define us.  That’s huge.  In the moment they can feel so huge.  Like this is now my legacy, I’m going to be known for this.  This is how I’m going down in history.  But it doesn’t have to be that way and chances are it won’t be that way.

Moses did not go down in history as the guy who struck the rock twice instead of speaking it and failed to enter the Promised Land.  Perhaps at one point that may have been ascribed to him, perhaps at one point that fail haunted him, but that’s not what he’s known for.  1500 years after Moses, people didn’t say, Moses, oh, the guy that struck the rock when he should’ve spoken to it…NO.  

In fact, when Jesus came it was Moses, Moses, Moses.  

Moses was THE GUY.  

The prophet

author of a large portion of the Torah

the mediator of the covenant

the one who parted the Red Sea and led God’s people out of Egypt

the Law giver

faithful in all God’s house

That’s Moses’ legacy.  All of his glorious works overshadow his fail.  Our fails don’t have to define us.

David did not go down in history as the guy who slept with a guys’ wife and had the guy murdered.  Everyone knows this story and it’s no secret; perhaps at one point that fail haunted him, but that’s not what he’s known for.  

David went down in history as the giant slayer

the Psalmist

the leader of the mighty men

the slayer of tens of thousands of God’s enemies

the great King

the man after God’s own heart.  

As you read through the books of 1 & 2 Kings and Chronicles, who is held up as the high bar, the standard for kings?  David.  This guy was king, but he did evil in the eyes of the Lord unlike David.  This guy was a loser too; he wasn’t like David.  Every now and then you get a good king in Judah, maybe six in all, who walked according to the Lord as did David.  That’s David’s legacy. All of his glorious works overshadow his fail.  Our fails don’t have to define us.

Peter did not go down in history as the guy who denied Jesus three times.  Perhaps at one point, that may have been ascribed to him, and it may have haunted him a bit, but it’s not what he is currently known for.  Today, when one mentions Simon Peter, people don’t immediately go, “oh, the coward that denied Jesus 3 times.”  

In some Christian denominations or circles, Peter is considered the first Pope.  

Peter went down in history as the rock

the guy upon whom the church was built

Shepherd of Jesus’ sheep

as the leader of the Jewish followers of Jesus

as the bold, courageous, outspoken faith-filled faithful follower of Jesus

author of two NT books 

That is Peter’s legacy. All of his glorious works overshadow his fail.  Our fails don’t have to define us.

Paul did not go down in history as the guy who was the great persecutor of Christians, the great opposer to the truth.  It was at one point certainly ascribed to him, and it probably haunted him, but it’s not what he is currently known for.  Today, when somebody mentions Paul, people think of

the guy that wrote more books in the NT than anyone else

who established more churches in the Mediterranean Rim than anyone else

who brought the Gospel message to the gentiles.  

That is Paul’s legacy. All of his glorious works overshadow his fail.  Our fails don’t have to define us.

We can move beyond our fails and be known for much greater things than our fails.  So hopefully thus far you have found that encouragement, that those men of God who have gone down in history as Heroes of the Faith, who have graced the annals of history with their excellence, who we see as pillars in the household of God, like us, have failed, and at times epically, and their epic fails, while we don’t deny them, while they are still recorded as a part of biblical history they are not THE defining marks of these men.  They could have been, but they weren’t.  These men went down in history as so much more, because they didn’t have to be defined by their fails, and neither do we.

While we would all love to pretend that we don’t fail or that we won’t fail, we do and we will fail.   But, it’s a terrible feeling to do so, isn’t it?  Wouldn’t you rather score a win?  Well, this morning, I would like to close this series failblog by discussing a few practical principles that can help us to avoid the fail and procure the win.  I’m not so naïve to think that if we simply follow these principles we will never ever fail.  I know – and I hope you know based on our recent studies…never say never – I know that isn’t the case.  But I also know that following these principles will help minimize the fail.  

So how can we work towards failproofing our lives?

How to avoid the fail:

#1 Wise counsel for the win!  Prov 15:22 Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.

You want to walk headlong into a fail?  Start making decisions all on your own, especially big decisions, especially in areas of life that you aren’t experienced.  That’s asking for a fail.  Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.

Wise counsel FTW.  

When it comes to work, find someone at your place of employment that has been in the industry or at the company for a number of years and look to them as an adviser.  Look to them as a mentor and seek their advice, seek their counsel.

Jim Collins, a leadership guru says to make it your ambition to be the dumbest person in the room.  Gather people around you that know better, that have been there done that, who have experience, and insight.  And listen to them.  Get counsel from them.  Wise counsel for the win.

When it comes to school, get with the COUNSELOR; that is their job – to COUNSEL you.  They know better about which courses to take and when.

And when this proverb graced the pages of Scripture, they didn’t have google.  Their only source of information, guidance and insight was other people.  We have the benefit of the internet.  If the wise man who penned this proverb was alive today, he might say, google it.  And don’t stop at the first website.  Read a few different takes on it and make sure that the sources are reputable, not just some random teenager blogging his brains out at 2:30 am.  Plans fail for lack of counsel but with MANY advisers they succeed.  Many advisers.  Read multiple sources.

When it comes to spiritual things, find someone who is more mature spiritually than you, who has studied the scriptures deeper than you, whose life looks more like Jesus than yours and seek their advice, seek their counsel.  Wise counsel for the win.

Don’t go it alone.  Rolling solo is asking for a fail.  But seeking wise counsel from multiple trustworthy individuals is walking in the direction of a win.  Wise counsel for the win.

How else can we failproof?

#2 Love for the win! This should come as no surprise to you if you have been at our church for very long.  We see it as part of our defining purpose in life to love God and love others.  1 Cor 13:8 Love never fails.  All this other good stuff that was part and parcel of authenticating the gospel message in the first century, including but not limited to prophecy, the ability to speak in other languages, special knowledge, all that would pass away, but LOVE on the other hand, which certainly defined the apostles, that would remain, and that never fails.

Love is to be the defining mark of a disciple of Jesus.  Jesus told his disciples in John 13:34-35 A new command I give you: love one another.  As I have loved you so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

You want to bring glory to God and honor to the name of Christ?  I’ll tell you how you can fail, don’t love.  Not loving is like instafail.  How many people avoid church and want nothing to do with Jesus because of people’s lack of love, because a Christian failed to show love?

So, you want to impact the world for Christ and draw others into the Kingdom?  Love for the win.  Love never fails.

For this last message, I really wanted to bring it all home with an EPIC EPIC fail, so I wanted to camp out on one of Jesus’ many fails or one of God’s fails.  That didn’t fit so well though.  Because you know what Jesus’ fails look like.  

Jesus failed to succumb to temptation in the wilderness.  

Jesus failed to dishonor his father in heaven.  

Jesus failed to give an answer to the Pharisees that they could use to trap him in his words.  

That’s just not as much fun, right.  Because when it comes to the kind of fail that we are discussing in this series, you can search high and low, deep and wide and you will find not one instance of Jesus failing.  You will not find even a remote hint at a failure of God.  God doesn’t fail, which leads us to our third and final insight for failproofing our lives.

#3 Trust God for the win! 

God made a covenant with Abraham that he would have numerous descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore and God promised that those descendants would inherit the Promised Land.  At times it looked like that promise was about to fail.  I mean from the get go any outsider looking in would say, “God, you may want to rethink that promise.  You’re setting yourself up for a fail.  In case you didn’t know, his wife, Sarah, she has already gone through this thing that women go through called menopause, which means that she can’t have children, which means that he can’t have any descendants.”  

God doesn’t fail.  He gave Sarah who was past the age of childbearing a son named Isaac.  Isaac had Jacob and Esau and Jacob was renamed Israel and Israel had twelve sons who had lots of children who had lots of children and before you know it, Moses has those lots of children in the wilderness on their way to that very Promised Land.  Deut 1:10 The LORD your God has increased your numbers so that today you are as many as the stars in the sky.  Moses failed and died before he could lead them into the Land but he appointed Joshua to succeed him and Joshua led them into the Land.  And at the end of Joshua, look at what Joshua says.

Josh 21:43-45  So the LORD  gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there.  The LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers.  Not one of their enemies withstood them; the LORD handed all their enemies over to them.  Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

Not one of God’s promises failed.  Because God doesn’t fail.  We fail, but God doesn’t.  Trust God for the win.

Over time, God made more and more promises.  By his word, he foretold through his prophets the birth of a savior, a messiah, a descendant of David who would rule over his Kingdom forever and ever.  And in the first century God made good on his promise through the birth of Jesus.  

Luke 1:31-3731 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[b] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

For no word from God will ever fail.”

Remember when we looked at the boldness of Peter after the resurrection and his reinstatement?  Remember when he just kept on preaching the gospel after the religious leaders kept telling him to stop?  The leaders put Peter and the others in jail, but an angel of the LORD released them miraculously and the next thing you know they’re in the streets preaching again.  So they took them before the religious council to try them.  The council said to cut it out and they said we must obey God rather than men.  The council was furious and wanted to put them to death.

Acts 5:34-3934 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35 Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered.38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

If their cause was merely of human origin, it would fail.  Because humans are prone to fail.  But, this wise man, knew, if it was from God it would not fail because God does not fail.

Trust God for the win.

So in an effort to failproof our lives, in an effort to avoid the fail and procure the win, 

seek the advice of many counselors, wise counsel FTW.  

Love FTW; love never fails.  

And trust God FTW; God never fails.

And again, no matter how diligently we failproof our lives, we will fail, but our fails don’t have to define us.  The good news is that the fails that matter most in the grand scheme of things, the fails that hinder fellowship, damage relationships, violate trust, and hurt others – fails that would be considered sins according to the bible, not only do those fails not have to define us, in Jesus, they have been removed from us, not counted against us.

2 Cor 5:18-2118 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

That is really good news.  The kind of good news that we should want to tell others.  Paul wrote that he and his fellow apostles had been given the ministry of reconciliation.  Indirectly that torch has been passed to us.  We share in the ministry of reconciliation and have the privilege of having the beautiful feet of God’s messengers who bring good news that not only do we not have to be defined by our fails, we don’t have to bear the punishment for them and they have actually been altogether removed from us in Christ, not counted against us.

Jesus for the win.