All failures are not sin

I was doing a devotional this morning with my son and it was really simple, but was really insightful as well. The reality was the messed up thinking people can have about failures.  Many people really take it personal when they fail and yet we know that many times the greatest achievements are accomplished only after a variety of failures.

The devotional used the story of Thomas Edison and the work he did inventing things.  He was confronted once about all his failures on producing a decent battery. He had tried over 10,000 different combinations with no success. He was asked about all the failures and he responded “Those are not failures, those are proof of what will not work”.

The story tied into Paul and the book of 2 Corinthians, chapter 12 where Paul talks about the thorn in his side, but he also talks about failing….

6 If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, 7 even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.
8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:6-10 NLT

It may be hard to relate the story of Paul to the story of Edison, but the similarities are aligned with not taking our identification in the failures or challenges of this life. Edison and Paul both refused to be limited or discouraged by the challenges and opposition.

The biblical principle that was discussed was the difference between failure and sin.  A failure is something that occurs when we don’t achieve our plans and expectations. Sin is when we don’t obey and comply with God’s will.  The basics are…

All sin is a failure, but not all failures are sins. We can fail at things that are not sinful, such as failing to win a game of cards. But when we knowingly fail to follow God’s will, when we know better, we have sinned and failed.

We were given a task to carry a battery in our pocket today as a reminder that we are going to fail, and we will be able to learn from our challenges, but we don’t have to be hindered or restricted by our failures.

If we are outwardly doing selfish things that are against God’s will, we are committing sin, the worst of failures. We need to stop and review our motivation and attitude towards the sin we are committing. Why are we consciously doing what we know is wrong? Do we not fear our authority? Or do we feel we are our authority?

I know that when I fail at something, I get really upset at myself and condemnation comes in fast, furious and heavy.  Imagine if Thomas Edison or Paul would have condemned themselves when a failure happened, they most likely would have been dejected and ever accomplished the things they did. Let us remember that failures do not always equate to condemnation. Let us learn from our failures and if they are sin, dig in and remove the motivation to do such things that are deliberate against the God.

Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (2 Co 12:6–10). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

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