010: The First Step In Managing Personal Failure

Devotional on Romans 4:1-8

We all fail.  That’s not surprising to any of us.  Yet, with the amount of times we all fail you’d think we’d be better at managing failure and making things right.  Most of us are horrible at managing personal failure.  Here’s a thought that’s going to help…

Romans 4:1-8 reveals The First Step To Managing Personal Failure… in the best possible way.

Before I take you to the revelation lets make some observations about the text so we understand why this first step is successful.

1. Paul is writing to people who are in denial
Romans 4:1, “What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter” NIV

In this passage, Paul continues to challenge his audience avatar, The Complacent Jew (namely, a person whose head is filled with Bible, but is not inspired to personally engage with God).  For us, The Complacent Christian (a person whose Bible knowledge never inspires personal engagement with God) is a comfortable fit.

Paul’s readers felt that God was obligated to love them and give them all the benefits they believed their families deserved.  There’s a problem with anyone’s assumption about God’s obligation.

God has never been obligated to anyone.

If you believe that God is obligated to love you, help you, bless you, reward you, give you money, answer your prayers, heal you, give you a motorcycle, pay for your tuition, bail you out of debt, or any other idea you may have, take a moment to make sure you’re not in denial.  God sure does love us, and He really does want to bless us, but He is absolutely not obligated to do anything for us particularly since we often fail.

If we are not acknowledging our personal failure and yet claiming that God is obligated to us, we may be in denial and soon to be in more trouble.

2. Paul’s content confronts our assumptions about our failure and God’s response
Romans 4:2, “If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God” NIV

In this passage, Paul’s focus is the foundation of the complacent Jew’s position – they believed that that a simple obedience to part (not all) of the Law (e.g. The 10 Commandments) obligated God to declare someone righteous.

God has never been obligated to anyone.

At the end of our days we should expect to hear only one of two words from God: Condemned or Justified.  If we are justified it is because God has declared us “righteous” (a word that means we have fully met all of the obligations of the Law (either the Law found in the Old Testament, or the Law of our own conscience).  Unfortunately, it’s impossible to get everything correct.  Actually, we’ve already failed… many times.

We absolutely need to understand that righteousness was never given by God as an obligation.  And it was never declared because someone did everything right.  It’s given as gift.  God gives righteousness (as though depositing righteousness into a bank account as a credit) to anyone who believes (trusts) God.

To manage our personal failure, we need to start right here.  Righteousness (the declaration that our failure is covered, forgiven, and forgotten) is a gift that comes from God.  The first step in managing personal failure has never been about cleaning up our own messes.  It’s always been about God and His desire to give us a gift.

3. Paul gives us an example of how to manage personal failure in the best possible way
Romans 4:3, “What does Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’” NIV

The primary reason for the Complacent Jew Avatar’s confidence is the example of Abraham, and their claim on Abraham via their bloodline.  They believed that Abraham’s personal engagement with God obligated God to be personally engaged with them, regardless of their personal failure and denial.

God has never been obligated to anyone.

If your parents are Believers you are still required to believe in Jesus for yourself.  Your parents’ personal engagement with Jesus may give you a stronger starting point than others who never benefited from Christian support at home, but it certainly doesn’t mean that you’re personally connected with God.

The best possible way to manage personal failure is to believe in Jesus, get personally connected with Jesus yourself, and continually press into your own friendship with Jesus.  Your personal engagement with Jesus results in your complete forgiveness and a credit of righteousness.

4. Here’s The First Step In Managing Personal Failure
Romans 4:5, “However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness” NIV

Befriend Jesus by choosing to believe in Him.

Rather than trying to manage your personal failures on your own, trust that God bails us out by forgiving us and giving us a new start.  Everyone needs a do-over, or a re-start in life.  Jesus hands them out as a gift through our belief in Him.

Befriending Jesus by choosing to believe in Him is the best possible first step to managing personal failure.  You may never be forgiven by those you hurt, and you may never recover from the crimes you have committee.  However, if you choose to befriend Jesus you can be confident that your personal failures will never follow you into eternity, and your friend, Jesus, is going to become your sponsor right now to help you get back on track.

Join the Conversation

Did you receive some insight from today’s post?  If so, please join the conversation by leaving a comment below.  Please consider sharing what you heard, what it means to you, and what you’ll do about it.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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3 thoughts on “010: The First Step In Managing Personal Failure

  1. Just thought I would add a thought or two:

    To say “God has never been obligated to anyone.” That would be like calling God a liar!

    By His own choice God has made many covenants and promises with many people, and if HE is who HE says HE is, then He is **obligated** to to honour His committments.

    Let’s face it . . . God is not perfect! He occasinally messes up from time to time. For instance, when God wanted to abandon His Covenant with Israel, Moses called God to account!

    Exodus 32:7 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, “Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8 They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. . . 9 The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people. 10 Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of YOU a great nation.”

    Moses’ Entreaty to God: Like . . . What kind of dumb idea is this!?? Pull a stunt like this, and abandon Your Covenant with Israel, and no will ever trust You ever agai1n!

    11 Then Moses entreated the Lord his God, and said, “O Lord, why does Your anger burn against Your people whom You have brought out from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians speak, saying, ‘With evil intent He brought them out to kill them in the mountains and to destroy them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your burning anger and change Your mind about doing harm to Your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants to whom You swore by Yourself, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your [g]descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’” 14 So the Lord changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people.”

    Jer 24:5 “Thus says the Lord God of Israel . . . I will regard as good the captives of Judah . . . I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.

    Jer 31:31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel . . . “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. . . . 34 They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘KnoW. . . the Lord,’ for they will all know Me . . . “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

    And I know a whole lot of Fundamentalists have isses with this passage of Scripure, not to mention issues with God:

    Romans 11:25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery — so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so *** ALL *** Israel will be saved; just as it is written,

    “The Deliverer will come from Zion,
    He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.”

    27 “This is ** MY COVENANT ** with them, When I take away their sins.” 28 From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are IRREVOCABLE!!!!

    God has made committments, promises and covenants. My I trust is in **HIM**!!

    • Thanks for the comment!

      Regarding God’s obligation to any of us, I’m partly saying what you’re saying when you write, “By His own choice God has made many covenants and promises.”

      I agree that God fulfills His own promises. I trust Jesus for my salvation, and I know I won’t be put to shame.

      That being said, it’s God’s choice to create a covenant or make a promise. And, it’s always God’s choice. None of us can force Him into a covenant. He enters Himself into covenants and makes promises because He wants to, not because He’s obligated to do so.

      There’s nothing that you or I can do to obligate God to do anything for us. God has obligated Himself to us because He loves us, not because we have merited His promises.

      Are you saying something similar to that?

      • I am not at saying, that God is at all obligated to enter into Covenants; but once entered or proclaimed, He is indeed obligated to fulfill His promises. Like . . . even I do that!

        One of God’s primary Covenants addresses marriage. Don’t know about you, but when you perform a marriage, do you include the unbiblical “until death do us part”?? NEVER what God intended when He said the two shall become ONE. He never said the two shall become ONE ‘for a while’! Marriage has always been, and was always intended to be a eternal union!!

        And in like manner . . . His plan for mankind was also intended to be an eternal union!! God’s plan involves two different marriages:

        1. The descendants of Israel, (ALL of them, from day one) the wife of YAWEH; and

        2. The Bride of Christ.

        Two different marriages; Two different relationships, but both sealed by an eternal Covenant!

        For the adulterous wife of YAWEH who have been smitten with blindness, there is coming a day when the blindness will be removed:

        Zech 12:10 “I will pour out on the house of David (not just some of them) and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. . . . ”

        And as you say: “There’s nothing that you or I can do to obligate God to do anything for us. God has obligated Himself to us because He loves us, not because we have merited His promises.”

        I believe God’s grace extends **FAR** beyond anything we can even imagine! And that’s without even travelling down the antediluvian road . . . 🙂