Originally posted on the Bibles for America Blog.
Have you ever felt discouraged after you experienced a failure in your Christian life? Maybe you wondered why God let you fail, especially since He could have prevented you from making that mistake. After all, doesn’t God want us to have a good testimony as Christians?
In this post, we’ll explore why God sometimes lets us fail, and how our failures can actually help us grow in our Christian life.
The Christian life is a matter of living Christ
First, it’s helpful to understand what happened when we were saved and how that affects the rest of our Christian life. We know we were forgiven of our sins and saved from eternal judgment; the Lord’s marvelous salvation took care of our past and assured our future.
But what’s more, we were born again, and Christ came to live in us. This Christ who lives in us is now our life. Colossians 3:4 says:
“When Christ our life is manifested, then you also will be manifested with Him in glory.”
In the New Testament Recovery Version, note 1 on Christ in this verse explains:
“That Christ is our life is a strong indication that we are to take Him as life and live by Him, that we are to live Him in our daily life in order to experience the universally extensive Christ revealed in this book [Colossians], so that all He is and has attained and obtained will not remain objective but will become our subjective experience.”
This note helps us realize the Lord isn’t focused on whether we’re perfect and make no mistakes. He’s focused on whether we take Him as our life and live by Him. He wants us not just to know that He lives in us but to subjectively experience Him as our life.
Now that Christ is our life, He wants us to take Him as our life and live by Him in all the circumstances of our daily life. When we live this way, we experience and enjoy Him. Then spontaneously, we express Him to everyone around us. This is the Christian life.
If we don’t realize this, we’ll spend our time trying—and failing—to live what we think is a God-pleasing life by our own effort. Even if we were to somehow succeed, this isn’t what the Lord wants. He’s our life, so He wants us to live by Him.
Failures actually help us
This is where failures come in. It’s not that the Lord wants us to fail. But He knows our failures can help us realize what our real need is.
For this reason, the Lord faithfully provides the perfect environment to uncover our inadequacies. We may think we’re spiritually strong, but He arranges the necessary circumstances to show us how weak we really are, and how much we need Him.
For instance, we might think we’re loving, kind, and patient. But then the Lord brings someone into our life that taxes our love, making it evident it’s not that deep or lasting. Given the right circumstances, we’re not even that kind. And on top of it, this person strains our patience. Before we know it, we blow up in anger.
This failure shows us we’re not the “good Christian” we thought we were. But this isn’t a negative thing! It helps us realize again that Jesus Christ is the only One who can live a proper Christian life. It reminds us that He came into us to be our life, and that we need to live by Him.
Our failures bring in light
Through our failures, the Lord is able to shine on us to expose our real inner situation before Him. His light reduces the high estimation we have of ourselves. He shines so we can recognize how short we are of living by Christ in our experience. This causes us to turn to Him, to call on Him, and to even cry out to Him in prayer. It’s when we fall that we begin to grasp our need to take Christ as our life and truly experience Him with every person and matter in our lives.
Under the Lord’s light we’re humbled, our self-assurance is broken, and we become fearful of relying on ourselves. Consequently, we’re much more open to Him than when we thought we were doing fine. The Lord needs this kind of openness in order to grow in us.
Furthermore, when our shortcomings are laid bare by the Lord’s light, we aren’t quite so trusting in our own ability or goodness. We see that our goodness means nothing, and we’re more willing to let Christ live in us and through us. All of the Lord’s shining on us when we fail makes us more willing to turn to Him and behold Him, and to be refreshed in our love for Him.
Not being discouraged
None of this means we should deliberately fail or think it’s okay to be careless with sin. To maintain our relationship with the Lord, we need to care for the condition of our heart and heed the voice of our conscience. And when the Lord makes us aware of sins we’ve committed, we need to confess those sins to Him to receive His forgiveness and cleansing. These are all healthy and necessary spiritual practices we need to take care of to have a normal Christian life.
But we will fail, and when we do, we can view these failures as helpful and necessary instead of being discouraged. Through our failures, Christ has the opportunity to shine on us and cause us to turn and open to Him. We’re reminded that Christ is our life, and we must live by Him.
If we have this understanding, we won’t be overcome by discouragement and disappointment when we fail. Instead, we’ll turn more quickly to Christ and even thank Him for His wisdom in dealing with us. We’ll open to Him in a deeper way so that we can learn to truly take Him as our life.
In this post, we only quoted note 1 of Colossians 3:4; note 2 sheds more light on Christ being our life and points out how Colossians reveals the riches of Christ for our experience and enjoyment. If you live in Australia, we encourage you to order a free copy of the New Testament Recovery Version here to read these and other notes that will help you enter into a deeper experience of Christ.
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