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Theology of our failures

Discussion in 'Evangelism, Missions & Witnessing' started by CF1, Dec 8, 2010.

  1. CF1

    CF1 New Member

    Nov 28, 2009
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    This is a "General" Fellowship question, not related to any of the current "Fellowship" forum categories. I put this topic in this category as the best place to fit it into the current structure.

    What is the theology of why God allows us to fail?

    I've heard it said that God lets us fail to show forth His Glory. As we see that we can and do fail, we see that we need to depend on Him and the Holy Spirit and the Word every moment. But while trying to abide in Him, we do fail and must humbly admit it. Failure keeps us humble and keeps us exalting God who gives us the ability to accomplish His work in us.

    What are other Biblical reasons you have thought about that explain why God allows us to fail?
  2. Scarlett O.

    Scarlett O. Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    May 22, 2002
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    In my thinking failures and weaknesses are to teach us that we are not self-sufficient. We NEED God.

    Job 14:1 - “Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble."

    No one is going to escape this temporal realm without experiencing failure - multiple times.

    Philippians 4:10-13 - "The Lord has made me very grateful that at last you have thought about me once again. Actually, you were thinking about me all along, but you didn't have any chance to show it. I am not complaining about having too little. I have learned to be satisfied with whatever I have. I know what it is to be poor or to have plenty, and I have lived under all kinds of conditions. I know what it means to be full or to be hungry, to have too much or too little. Christ gives me the strength to face anything"

    I think there are two things to consider about failures and weaknesses.

    • Sometimes they occur due to circumstances beyond our control.
    • Sometimes they occur because of our own making.
    It's important to understand that.

    I also think that one has to look at the root cause of failure to determine if God has "allowed" this in your life (going so far as Him purposefully placing it your life to begin with) or if it is of your own sinful making . Certainly, God may throw up a roadblock in your path to get your attention off of yourself and onto Himself or to get you back on track. He may even allow something in your life that you plead with Him to take away and He doesn't for His own purposes. These things aren't controllable by you and I.

    2 Corinthians 12:8-10 - "Three times I begged the Lord to make this suffering go away. But he replied, 'My kindness is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak.' So if Christ keeps giving me his power, I will gladly brag about how weak I am. Yes, I am glad to be weak or insulted or mistreated or to have troubles and sufferings, if it is for Christ. Because when I am weak, I am strong."

    But then there are the times when failures and weaknesses over take us and we like to blame God and even the devil for that matter for things that are our own blasted fault.

    Here are some ideas about discovering what we do sometimes that causes the failure. This isn't my own original list, but someone else's.

    • Arrogance - "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18
    • Disobedience - "And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after others, which ye have not known." Deuteronomy 11:28
    • Doubt - "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like the wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed." James 1:6
    • Discouragement - "And let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." Galatians 6:9
    Here are some thoughts (again, from someone else) as to why people sometimes fail. They are more secular in nature. My additional thoughts are in red.
    • Lacking a specific goal in life. This could be as simple as planning a day's activities so as not to go to bed with nothing to show for the day or a complex as planning out one's career.
    • Lacking of application of education and knowledge. Getting trained and getting knowledge isn't a problem. Knowledge is literally everywhere. It's the refusal to apply that training and knowledge to one's life that is a waste.
    • Lack of self-discipline. Poor habits MUST be overcome.
    • Procrastination. Beth Moore says that too many people are stressed out either because they have procrastinated to the point of failure or are hastily trying to accomplish something at the last minute that winds up to be a flop. Neither are fruitful places for a Christian to be.
    • Lack of persistence. People give up far too easy. We don't pray enough or pray expectantly. We don't read the Bible enough and we don't read it for application's sake enough. We give up far too easily.
    • Being negative. I think everyone who posts on message boards see the severe consequences of this.
    • Not being willing to take a well-thought out risk.
    • Wrong selection of associates. Self-explanatory.
    • Dividing your actions. I call this one "having too many irons in the fire". If we have too many projects going on at once - they will all fall short.
    • Lack of honesty. Self-reflection is a good and necessary thing.
    So - do we experience failures and weaknesses because God has ordained that we should endure them? Is it something beyond our control? If so, then we should rely on Him heavily to carry us through and seek out the lesson to be learned.

    Do we experience failures and weaknesses that can only be blamed on ourselves? Then we should seek God's face in repentence and again rely on Him to pick us up, clean us off, and we should get back on the right track again.

    Either way, there is no room for an ineffectual fence-sitting in self-pity or a "it's not my fault" attititude. Either way, we have to get off of our duffs and follow God's lead - even if it's painful.
  3. CF1

    CF1 New Member

    Nov 28, 2009
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    Thank you Scarlett O. for your insightful and well thought out response!

    You triggered a few more types of root causes of failure that I have noticed in people. These are mostly just more specific cases of the general types you listed above.

    * Burnout - becoming physically or emotionally exhausted
    * Loneliness - being separated from friends and family
    * Pressures of Life - being choked by peer pressures, work pressures, etc
    * Rejection - being rejected by someone you once respected
    * Lack of love - not believing you are loved by family, parents, friends, others
    * Lack of faith - not realizing a need to pray for more faith during times of tragedy
    * Lack of identity - not having an established sense of identity in Christ and in friends and family
    * Lack of mature confidence and God-centered esteeem - feeling a sense of low value, trying to cover it up with other attitudes like arrogance, proving the world is wrong about the beliefs the world has projected onto oneself.

    I agree with your practical advice to identify root causes and then deal with the root causes based on Biblical examples and counsel found in the Word. Sometimes we need each other to help each other see our way through theses challenges. That's how God set it up - that we encourage and lift each other up to be able to grow with each others' help.

    Do others have additional Biblical counsel to add to the really good list from Scarlett O. above?
  4. BobinKy

    BobinKy New Member

    Aug 6, 2010
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    What do you mean by failure?
    • One person's treasure is another person's trash.
    • One person's trash is another person's treasure.
    Or something like that.

    How do you measure success? What is the bottom line?

    Fear of failure.

    What do we learn from repeated failures.

    I once heard a definition of business success for the small business that went something like this.
    5 years is the threshold for any business.


    Because that is how long it takes the business to make all of the big mistakes--and if none of them bring bankruptcy, then it must be a viable business.​

    Does our definition of personal success change as we move through the transitions of life? As we go from child, adolescent, young adult, middle adult, retirement age, senior years, and the very old (90 years and beyond).

    How will acceptance fit into the theology of failure?

    I hope this helps.

    . . .

    And yes, Scarlet's post was most excellent, indeed!

  5. CF1

    CF1 New Member

    Nov 28, 2009
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    Thanks Bobinky for asking for clarity.

    1. I agree failure happens that is outside our control. How we react to those situations is all we can control. Sometimes we don't have the means to make the right decisions, due to extensive circumstances outside our control.

    2. It seems more interesting and more difficult to understand God's thoughts of our (Christians) failures when we are responsible, which might be called "occasional or temporary sin" (not a continual, perservering practice of sin that lasts until we die). For example, backsliding from which you recover, having an unloving heart, poor conduct and manners, anger, pride, lust, unfaithfulness, arrogance, idols, lacking the fruits of the spirit, turning away from God momentarily and then coming back, etc.

    3. Even more difficult to understand is when extensive circumstances outside our control seem to be involved partly in contributing towards or influencing our occasional or temporary sin. For example, when poor leaders in church, model poor behavior and we follow those leaders and find that the patterns, beliefs, attitudes, etc we have adopted are arrogant, prideful, etc. We were following their example of speech and thought, when we should have turned away to other leaders with better character. Yet we still willfully sinned.

    2 Timothy 3
    1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

    Rephrasing the questions of this topic I would ask:

    What is the theology of why God allows Christians to sin?

    I've heard it said that God lets us sin to show forth His Glory. As we see that we can and do sin, we see that we need to depend on Him and the Holy Spirit and the Word every moment. But while trying to abide in Him, we do sin and must humbly admit it. Sin keeps us humble and keeps us exalting God who gives us the ability to accomplish His work in us.

    What are other Biblical reasons you have thought about that explain why God allows us as Christians to sin?
    #5 CF1, Dec 9, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 9, 2010
  6. Thousand Hills

    Thousand Hills Active Member

    Oct 3, 2010
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    Good topic. Lots of good insight by the other posters.

    Unfortunately most of the last 10 years of my life I have struggled at times with fear of failure, this has pretty much been self imposed and due to an unrealistic (worldly) view of what success means. Thankfully, over the years the Lord has worked in my life to show me that I am secure in him, and those fears were just tools of the enemy.

    I've always liked this quote from Henry Ford "Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently". Failure is not always a bad thing.
  7. CF1

    CF1 New Member

    Nov 28, 2009
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    Yes, I can relate to being wrong about this and many other areas mentioned by posters above. It is easy to be tempted to strive for the approval of man, rather than God.