Man with face in his hand

Responding To Failure


Rather than being objective and looking for a solid, biblical solution to our problems, we often resort to either accusing someone else or berating ourselves. Sometimes we blame others to make ourselves feel better. By blaming someone else who failed, we feel superior. In fact, the higher position of the one who failed (parent, boss, pastor, and so on) and the further they fall, the better we feel.

In other situations, however, just the opposite is true. When a parent fails, a child often accepts the blame for that failure. Even as adults, we may readily assume blame in our relationships with those in authority. We have much invested in supporting those we depend on. This is one reason denial is so strong in abusive homes.

How Should We Respond When Someone Fails?

If the person who failed is a Christian, we need to affirm God’s truth about him or her. he or she is deeply loved, completely forgiven, fully pleasing, totally accepted by God, and is complete in Christ. This perspective can eventually change our condemning attitude to one of love and desire to help. By believing these truths, we will gradually be able to love the person just as God loves us (1 John 4:11), forgive them just as God has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32), and accept them just as God has accepted us (Romans 15:7). This doesn’t mean that we’ll become blind to the faults or failures of others. We will continue to see them, but our response to them will change considerably over time, from condemnation to compassion. As we depend less on other people for our self-worth, their sins and mistakes will become less of a threat to us, and we will desire to love them instead of being compelled to punish them.

What About Our Response To Unbelievers?

Even though they haven’t yet trusted in the cross for the removal of their condemnation before God, Jesus was very clear about how we are to treat them. In Matthew 22, He told His disciples to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” and to “love your neighbor (both believers and unbelievers) as yourself.” Jesus was even more specific in Luke 6. He said, “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Christ didn’t come to love and die for the lovely, righteous people of the world. He came to love and die for the unrighteous, the inconsiderate and the selfish.

In my next posting, I’ll continue to unpack the author’s views about God being the judge, not us.


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