I missed my time in the Bible . . . again. I may as well give up.
I blew my diet today. I should wait until life is less hectic to start up again.
I lost my temper with my pesky neighbor again. Maybe I should just avoid her instead of trying to be nice.
We’ve all had experiences like these. We set goals. We have good intentions. But invariable we drop the ball, and then we wonder if the effort is even worth it. We let an off day derail our endeavors.
I love what Christina Rossetti said: “A fall is a signal not to lie wallowing, but to rise.”
Or, as Proverbs 21:16 puts it: “The righteous falls seven times and rises again.”
How can we rise again? First we assess what caused the fall.
Did we willfully choose our own way instead of God’s? Some of God’s greatest servants had some of the most spectacular falls. David, a “man after God’s own heart,” committed adultery and then had the woman’s husband put in the line of fire in battle so he would be killed. His heart-wrenching confession and plea for God’s mercy and forgiveness can be found in Psalm 51. Peter, the main spokesman for the disciples, denied he even knew Jesus when the pressure was on. Then “he went out and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62). Both men were restored to fellowship. Does that mean they “got away with” their sin? No. John wrote:
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1).
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9)
Jesus took on all our sin and punishment so we could be forgiven. True faith and repentance doesn’t say, “Great! Now I can do whatever I want with no consequences!” A true believer will be grieved over his sin and what it cost while still being grateful for God’s forgiveness.
We’re saved in a moment, but we spend the rest of our lives growing more like Christ. Just as a baby trips and falls while learning to walk, we’ll have our share of missteps. We can learn from them and move on. “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
Lack of prayer
When Jesus went to Gethsemane to pray, He told His disciples, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” But when he came back to them, they were sleeping (Luke 22:39-46).
Set-up for failure
I’ve learned that it’s easier to say “no” to problem foods at the store rather than at home. Recently while shopping I wanted a “treat”—and came home a couple of bags of candy and a couple of dessert mixes. And then I figuratively kicked myself. Romans 13:14 says, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” I had just made plenty of provision for my flesh. Thankfully, God helped me realize it and ration out the goodies. But we sabotage ourselves in other areas as well: We want to get up early, but then we stay up late on social media or Netflix. We want to read the Bible, but we wait for a time that never opens up instead of making time.
Goals too big or vague
Saying “I need to eat healthier” or “I need to be less selfish” are generalities that are hard to put into practice. I need to look at my specific habits to see needs to change. Likewise, a goal set on January 1 will need some checking through the year. In one book I read, the author set quarterly goals and took time to review them. We may need weekly or even daily goals.
Relying on our own strength
Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).
Not knowing or using God’s Word
In Matthew 4, every time Satan tempted Jesus, Jesus countered with the Word of God. Satan uses Scripture, too, but he misapplies or twists it. Romans 12:1-2 tells us to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Psalm 103:13-14 reminds us: “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” Barb Raveling says in The Renewing of the Mind Project:.
[God] sees things right now in your life that He’d like to change. Not because He’s a demanding perfectionist who’s disgusted with you. But because He’s a loving Father who cares about you and also about the people you interact with each day. So as you look at your weaknesses, look at them from the comfort and safety of your Father’s arms. knowing that He’s looking at them with you, but through eyes of grace and love and a desire to help (p. 8).
He wants to help us:
Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted (Hebrews 2:17-18).
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16).
So next time we fall or fail, let’s not wallow. Let’s not stay down. Let’s confess to God our sin and need of Him and seek His grace to stand back up and keep going. His mercies are new every morning. He “equip[s] you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 13:20-21). He “has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him” and “has granted to us his precious and very great promises” (2 Peter 1:3-4). Let’s look unto Jesus, and as we behold Him, we’ll become more like Him.
Rejoice not over me, O my enemy;
when I fall, I shall rise;
when I sit in darkness,
the Lord will be a light to me.
(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Global Blogging, Senior Salon, Hearth and Home, Literary Musing Monday, Purposeful Faith, Happy Now, Tell His Story, InstaEncouragement, Recharge Wednesday, Worth Beyond Rubies,
Anchored Abode, Share a Link Wednesday, Let’s Have Coffee,
Heart Encouragement, Grace and Truth, Blogger Voices Network)