Monday, July 1, 2013

What Causes Us to Fail?

"Failure, if it comes, will always arise from one or the other of these two causes: lack of consecration or lack of trust. It is never the strength of our enemies or our own weakness that causes us to fail."
Hannah Whiteall Smith

Is our failure a result of the strength of our enemies? No! Remember how the giant with a sword, a spear, and disdain for God was defeated by a shepherd boy with a sling, a stone, and confidence in God? Proverbs 16:7 tells us, When a man's ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him. And the apostle John reminds us that greater is he that is in you that he that is in the world (1John 4:4, KJV).

Nor is it because of our own weakness. In Hebrews 11, we read about men and women of the faith who trusted God even in overwhelming circumstances, people like Noah, Abraham, Moses and Rahab.  Then, for lack of time, the author begins to talk about people by what they did, such as conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised. He includes this description: whose weakenss was turned to strength, and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies (33-34).

In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul talks about a "thorn in the flesh" that was given him by God and, although he asked God to take it away, he was told, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ's power may rest on me (9). When we are capable in our own strength, we have little need for God. But as we yield him our weaknesses, he can use us. And that brings him great glory and delight.

Our failure comes from our lack of consecration and our lack of faith. Either we are not willing to give ourselves and our situation wholeheartedly to God or we think that he is not willing or able to manage.

As an example of consecration we need only look at Mary. When the angel came to her with the most overwhelming news that she would become the mother of God's son, she responded: I am he Lord's servant...May it be to me as you have said (Luke 1:30). Then there is Jesus himself. We see him in the garden, praying in agony over what he knows is about to happen, and is still able to pray, Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will (Mark 14:36). That is absolute consecration, submission to the will of God.

Moses' own failure to trust God enough to honor him as holy in the sight of the Israelites was enough to keep him from entering the Promised Land! (See Numbers 20:1-13) And when the disciples complained to Jesus that they couldn't drive out the demon from a child, he told them it was because they had so little faith (Matthew 17:19-20)!

We have enough promises and evidence in scripture to know that if we yield to God and trust him to care for whatever we are facing, no enemy can overcome us and our own weakness cannot stand in the way. Victory is assured!

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