“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

There is a scene I love in the movie, Remember the Titans. Based on a true story, a team of high school football players who were forced to desegregate schools, overcome adversity and win every game until the state championship. Losing 7-0 at halftime, nothing is going their way, they are outmatched, so when Coach Boone talks to the team in the locker room, he says “Win or lose it’s ok as long as we keep our heads up.” He was trying to prepare them for a loss, but he is interrupted by his star player Julius Campbell.

“With all due respect you demanded more from us, you demanded perfection.” Julius says, “Now I’m not saying I’m perfect, cus I’m not and I ain’t never gonna be, none of us are, but we have one every single game we have played until now. So this team is perfect. We stepped out on that field that way tonight, and if it’s all the same to you coach Boone, that’s how we want to leave it.”

Here is was what Julius was saying. There are 2 kinds of perfection. There is the unachievable kind of perfection that never makes a mistake; but there is another kind of perfection, based only on the end result. A perfect team makes mistakes but their end result is perfect.

In other words, you don’t have a perfect marriage, and you’re not a perfect spouse but if you don’t quit when it’s all said and done your marriage record will be 1-0. Perfect!

The same is true for your relationship with God; you’re not going to be “mistake free perfect,” but if you don’t quit when you stand before God, Jesus on the cross gives you the perfect result.

Hebrews 10:14
For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

A powerful trigger the devil uses to try and get your life off track is condemnation; it’s one of Satan’s most powerful weapons.  It sounds different for each of us, but the gist is the same. After we have sinned or failed, maybe for the first time or the 1000th time, we hear the voice of the enemy in our lives saying things like:

  • “You are such an idiot!”
  • “You are such a fake. If you’re church friends really knew the kind of stuff you did.”
  • “You will never be able to stop doing this.”
  • “God is so disappointed in you.”
  • “God doesn’t love somebody like you.”

The devil loves to make you feel condemned because if he can make you feel bad enough about yourself or your actions, you will give up trying to be who God wants you to be; you will become complacent, like a person who has stopped trying to avoid drowning.

There is a famous saying in Alcoholics Anonymous about feeling sorry for yourself, “Poor me, poor me, pour me another drink.”

During the last supper after Jesus had eaten a meal with his disciples and was about to be arrested and killed. He took a moment to say a few things to specific disciples, and he says something powerful to Peter. Jesus knows the chaos that is about to ensue, and he knows that the disciples are going to be afraid and confused when he looks at Peter in Luke 22:32 and says:

Luke 22:31
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”

Jesus’s words to Peter seems to imply there is a difference between falling and failing. Peter will go on to deny Christ. It was the ultimate act of betrayal, and it would be easy to believe Peter had failed, but Jesus said that he had prayed for Peter, and his faith would not fail. That seems like a contradiction, doesn’t it? How could Peter deny Christ but Jesus not consider that failure?

Jesus doesn’t explain what he means but if we piece together some other verses and stories we can see that the difference between failing and failing is whether or not we quit. In other words, it’s not failure if you decide to repent and try again.

The difference between falling and failing is whether you give up, or get up.

Proverbs 24:16
The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.

The devil wants you to quit. He wants your faith to fail. If he can get you to quit, to stop caring, to feel like God couldn’t love you, he knows he can make your life spin out of control. When failure feels permanent, and the temptation to throw in the towel seems like the only choice, remember,“Jesus has prayed for you, that your faith would not fail. When you have repented and turned to him again, strengthen your brothers.”

Don’t give up. Get up!

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