RCCG Family Praise Chapel Bible studies outline 2016.
Theme: Growing pains in our spiritual walk
Topic: Growing through failure – Psalm 103; Job 14:1
Failure is the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of success. Everyone wants to succeed and no one ever wants to fail. I have never met anyone who purposely set out to be a failure – in marriage, ministry, vocation, studies, business etc. This is why so much has been written on the topic “How to be a Success” and why these books are so popular. The simple reality is that failure is one of those ugly realities of life—a common experience to all of us to some degree. Thus, the ability to handle failure in its various forms and degrees is a vital part of the spiritual life and another sign of spiritual maturity.
Someone once said there are two types of failure in the Christian’s life: failure in the Christian life and failure in the life of a Christian. The first is a failure in a believer’s relationship and walk with God caused by sin Psalm 51 (King David), Judges 16:23-30(Samson). The second is not due to sin in the life of a believer, but some defeat a person who happens to be a Christian experience in his day-to-day life. When someone is walking in faith and obedience to the Lord, how can he be led into the pit of failure? Think about it. How can obeying God’s will lead to failure? Judges 1:19
Some common attitudes about failure:
Failure is an event in life and should never be your identity as a Christian. One thing which is common to all mankind is that we all fail. There isn’t one person out there who hasn’t failed – some perhaps more than others. The Bible recognizes that humans do fail: James 3:2; Eccl 7:20 But the most important thing is how we handle failure. Someone once said, “The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.” Proverbs 24:16; Job 5:19; Ps 37:24; 145:14; Luke 9:1-5. A study of Bible characters reveals that most of those who made history were men who failed at some point, and some of them drastically, but who refused to continue lying in the dust, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, David, and Peter etc. The historian Froude wrote, “The worth of a man must be measured by his life, not by his failure under a singular and peculiar trial”. “Failure is an event, and not a person” – Zik Zigler. Peter the apostle, though forewarned, thrice denied Jesus on the first alarm of danger; yet Jesus, who knew his nature in its strength and in its infirmity, chose him. God does not view failure the same way we do. Jeremiah was an absolute failure based on the world’s definition of failure.
Failure can be so devastating and unacceptable. Any Christian who has failed at some time knows how devastating the experience can be and the questions it raises: Where is God? How could He let this happen? Am I outside His will? What do I do now? Does God really care or exist? We are often taken by surprise by our failures, but God knows and expects this. Ps. 103:14. But the trouble comes when others can’t accept the truth about us; we can’t accept it about ourselves. Our first pressure comes from other people. The expectations from those around us, other Christians, our parents, significant people in our lives, societal and cultural pressures etc can push you to an early grave when you fail. They kick us when we are down; blame us harshly, rather than gently restoring us; and discourage us. Our second pressure comes from ourselves; we stagger around with loads of guilt, worthlessness, disqualification, and condemnation. We refuse to forgive ourselves, and rob ourselves of hope despite God’s mercy on us. The final pressure we often have to deal with is a preoccupation with unrealistic standards and expectations in life – we are told to be perfect, super-Christians: maturing faster than most Christians around us, more powerful than a trainload of temptations; our culture does not accommodate second place etc.
Why do Christians fail at times? Many of us blame the devil for our failure in life. But what are some reasons why Christians fail? There are many reasons why a Christian may fail. Some are the product of specific acts of sin, but some are not. Some are simply the product of ignorance or of circumstances beyond our control (Hosea 4:1-2;6). Sometimes we fail simply because we are humanly incapable of accomplishing a certain task. Sometimes we overlook our successes because we focus all our attention on what we cannot do. I Cor. 10:12; Prov 1:7; Luke 14:28-32; Prov. 24:6;27; 27:23-27; 15:22; 11:14; 20:18; Matt 26:41; Ps 119:77
Sometimes we make mistakes which are simply blunders in the choices we make. Some of the common mistakes we make as Christians include: 1. Panic-prompted mistakes. These often spring from fear, hurry or worry. Wrong decisions made with a desperate split second thought. 2. Well-intentioned mistakes – you are trying to do the right thing but at the wrong time or in the wrong way. Your motives were pure, but your method was off and your actions or words resulted in a disaster. Example is designating a successor prematurely and showing favoritism to a child. Gen 37:2-11; Num 27:16-23. 3. Negligent mistakes – Inattentiveness and carelessness can prompt mistakes. Solomon was a great ruler who sowed the seeds of the dissolution of his empire and his kingdom was split into two after he died. Solomon’s blunder was that, as he got older, accumulating personal wealth became more important than building up his country. His love for foreign women caused him to accumulate a ridiculous number of wives (I Kings 11:1-4). As Solomon himself noted, leaders need wisdom, understanding, righteousness, and truth to ensure the success of their reign. 4. Jealousy motivated mistakes – Jealousy is a dangerous trait for leaders, especially when it becomes an obsession. King Saul was totally distracted from his mission as leader of the Israelites and instead was driven to the brink of insanity by jealousy of his own son-in-law, David 1 Sam 22. 5. Blind spot mistakes – these happen because we all have blind spots – we are ignorant about a lot of things, and sometimes we don’t exercise good judgment because we are very trusting and gullible. 6. Rash decisions. 7. Being too nice. 8. Jumping to conclusions too early.
How do you respond to failure in life? Whether moral or not?
We often hide our failures instead of learning from them or sharing or exposing them in humility. Why do we hide our failures? So many reasons. Discuss. When you hide your failure, you will suffer Psalm 32:1-6; Prov. 28:13; 1 Jn 1:8-10. Occasionally we blame others for our failures – spouses (Adam), society, church, government, etc. Who have you blamed for your past failures. Prov 24:12. Failure does not mean that God has rejected you. In the Old Testament we are told that the nation of Israel turned from God many times. In God’s eyes this was an absolute failure. Yet despite this God was not prepared to give up on them: Rom. 11:1-5; Psalm 37:23-24.
What is the mature way to respond to failure as a Christian?
- Mature believers understand that a Christian can become successful in spite of failure because of God’s incredible grace and forgiveness. We may have to live with the results of some of our failures or sins, yet God is free to continue to love us in Christ and use us for His purposes because of grace (John 21 & Peter).
- The mature believer seeks to use failures as lessons for growth and change. (a) They understand that failures remind us of the consequences of our decisions. We reap what we sow. Failures remind us of what can happen, they can make us careful, but they should not be allowed to paralyze us. (b) The mature believer recognizes that our failures show us what we should and should not do; they become lessons in where we went wrong and why. It can help us avoid the same mistake twice if we will learn from history.
- When mature believers fail, they: (a) acknowledge their failures and refuse to hide behind any lame duck excuses. (b) Confess any sin to God when sin is involved is involved in the failure. (c) Study or examine what happened so they can learn from the failure. (d) Put it behind them and move ahead (1 John 1:9; Phil. 3:13).