Are You Still Afraid to Fail? (Newsletter 07.26.17)

Dear Church Family,

Are you still afraid to fail? Last week I wrote, “we should be afraid to fail when we are resting on the one we see in the mirror, but we shouldn’t be afraid to fail when we are resting on our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” That sounds simple enough, right? Maybe for some of us, but there are others who read a statement like that and think, “Well, sure, but how will I ever know I’m resting fully and only in Jesus? I always seem to find myself trusting in myself or someone or something else—even if ever so slightly. What am I supposed to do?”

Christians with this temperament may think of Romans 14:23b where Paul writes “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” and feel paralyzed. We want to live fully resting in Christ, but we’re afraid of failing Him. We’re afraid to live boldly for Jesus because we know our faith so often falters. This might be expressed in a timidity to evangelize the lost or a nervousness to make disciples or a refusal to cultivate community. We don’t fully give ourselves to these tasks because we’re paralyzed by the fear of failing. We tell ourselves those Scriptural commands are for the Christians that really “have it all together” and not those of us who struggle. We think it’s better never to take off since we know we’re going to crash…

And the devil says, “Amen!” Although sensitivity can be a great blessing, the glaring problem with this line of thinking is that it forgets the Gospel. Remember: we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ—not by our works. Christ didn’t die to save the righteous—Christ died to save sinners. His grace is greater than all our sin—past, present, and future.

In no way does this condone sin, but it does free us from the paralysis the fear of failing can cause. Our salvation has never been, is not now, and will never be rooted in us. Our eternal salvation is the result of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through the work of regeneration; that is, being made new creations given new hearts by the work of the Holy Spirit, Christ freed us from our bondage to sin. In result of this, our faith evidences itself through our fight to practice righteousness. “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him” (1 John 5:18).

However, “we all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2a) and “if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). Until Christ returns, we will continue to struggle and often succumb to sin, but by the power of God within us, our salvation remains secure. Each act of repentance is a triumph of grace reminding us of the One who lives within us. The power of the Gospel and the riches of His grace are no fairy tales—they are true for real, flesh-and-blood sinners.

So, Christian, you are going to fail because you are going to sin, but the same One who saved you is the same One with grace big enough “to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 24). Cowardice is not a sustainable option for the Christian—we must be bold in light of the Lamb who was slain and is now seated at the right hand of His Majesty on high. We haven’t stopped needing Jesus now that we’re saved. Rather, we show we’re saved by embracing the realization of our ever growing need of Him. Don’t let the fear of failing keep you from striving for faithfulness. He will always remain faithful.

As the third verse of the hymn “We Rest on Thee” by Edith Cherry so beautifully puts it:

We go in faith, our own great weakness feeling,

And needing more each day Thy grace to know:

Yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing,

“We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.”

Yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing,

“We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.”

Gentry