If you ask an athlete about a game, they will almost always tell you about the shot they missed, the tackle they could have had, the putt they should have sunk. Of course you don’t need to be an athlete to think this way. When you go into work what do you think of? The things you should have finished? The account you should have landed? I bet very few of us focus on the positives. Even fewer live wide awake.
We live in a culture that emphasizes failure. I don’t know if this has always been the case or if this is some recent development. But whatever the case, we live in a world obsessed with failure.
It’s true in our professional lives. It’s true in our personal lives. And this attitude is true in our relationship with God. We focus on our short comings: How we could have been more generous. How we shouldn’t have yelled at our kids. How we knew what we were doing was wrong, yet we didn’t stop. We focus on all of the mistakes we make.
But is this how we are supposed to live?
Most of us have fallen for the performance plan view of God. We think God is carefully taking note of our failures. That he’s just waiting around the corner to whack us with them. “If Santa makes a list, what does God do?” we wonder. Instead of experiencing God’s grace, we find ourselves overwhelmed with guilt.
Yet that’s not the God of the Bible. While God is never thrilled we’re sinning, it’s not our sin that destroys our relationship with him. It’s something else…
There once was a father and son who believed in God. The father was a murderer, adulterer, he was even negligent of his family. The son on the other hand never killed anyone, never had an affair, and always seemed to have his family in mind.
Yet God turned away from the son and not the father. Why?
Because no matter how many horrible things David did, he always maintained his relationship with God. He never rejected that relationship. Solomon on the other hand, despite all his wisdom, began to worship other Gods.
“As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech [a] the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done.” (1 Kings 11: 4-6)
David’s failure didn’t drive God away. No matter how many mistakes he made, God always remained with David. Solomon, on the other hand, despite all his wisdom found God as an enemy. It wasn’t his failures that caused it – it was his choice to believe in other gods that ended things.
So why do we still believe our behavior is what matters to God? Why do we focus all our energy on our failures, and spend so little time focusing on re-building our relationship with God?
David did many horrible things. Yet he was described as, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13: 22). Despite his actions, despite his failure, he built a lasting relationship with God. Isn’t that the model that we should work towards? Shouldn’t we stop focusing on failures and spend all that energy of doubt, fear, anger, worry towards re-energizing our relationship with God?
We need to live out a life of faith, not live a life in fear of failure.