This is the first article in a four-part series . . .
When does a man truly fail? What makes a failure complete?
I remember being a young man truly afraid of getting my report card. I was six years old and in first grade, and I had no idea how grades came to appear on the report card or what they were based on other than someone else's idea of whether or not I had "done well in school" for some time period. The report card came in small yellow envelopes of the kind you'd find in most offices when something official needs to be transported from here to there. I remember carrying mine home with a heavy hand.
I suddenly recounted all the things I had been in trouble for up to that point . . . throwing rocks in the playground . . . spitting water when it was my turn for a drink at the water fountain . . . not staying in line when walking between the classroom and the playground . . . and on and on it went. When I handed my report card to my mother, she began to read down the list of topics I had only heard in the classroom, and was not sure exactly what they meant. Reading - A, Math - A, Penmanship - A (there was a ship?!) and when she came to the bottom of the list I had gotten all A's.
Glad that was over with, I simply went on my way. The next report card, however, did not come back so good. I had a B and a C, and although I was not sure what that meant, I knew from my dad's reaction that it was not good. The third report card came back with an F on it, and that is when my dad took me into the back room for a talk.
Is the letter "F" for "Failure", stamped anywhere on your life? Unfortunately, many Christians have this letter stamped on their life, and not by God, but either by themselves or even more unfortunately, by other Christians. The failed Christian life happens when we do what we know is wrong, but it's not merely getting out of line at the water fountain. It can be much worse.
Infidelity in a marriage is the biggest one that springs to my mind because it seems to be the most abhorrent and prevalent in churches. However, there are other ways to get the big "F" stamped onto your life. For some, it is simply failing to meet expectations. Whether you set them or had them placed on your life, a broken expectation can feel so much like a broken promise that disappoints those around us. However you get it, chances are high that you may be walking around with an "F" stamped on your Christian life. The worst thing about it is it feels permanently engraved there.
How do you know a man has accepted that mark? He stops going to church. He stops reading his Bible. He may even stop trying to talk with God. "God cannot use me" is the message in his heart, and that message can be reinforced in cruel ways by others.
Back to my questions: When does a man truly fail? What makes a failure complete?
Through the year of first grade, I was able to bring my grades back up. The lower grades turned back into B's and A's. In the end, I was no failure. I still had the marks of the past to show for the lack of performance, but it was in the past. The only mark that mattered was the one at the end of the year. The only way that mark of an "F" would have been my undoing is if I had ceased to try. If I had accepted the "F" as permanent the moment it appeared, that would have been my moment of real failure.
Too many Christians today live the Failed Christian life, not because of the mark of Failure, but because they have accepted that mark as permanent, and have stopped trying. What is more, there are too many other Christians out there all too ready to remind them of the mark. Though life has moved on, they continue to point their finger into the past - "Failure" is on their lips every time they say hello, and the engraving grows a little deeper.
We do not have to live the Failed Christian life though. All we have to do is keep trying. Peter fell beneath the waves, cut off a man's ear, denied Christ three times, and still lived a very successful Christian life . . . because he understood . . . a man only truly fails when he fails to keep trying. Then, his failure is complete.
Reposted from www.MenRising.com