How You Can Win At Failure
Have you ever watched the show, American Idol? It’s a music competition that selects the
best singer. The contestants have to compete with one another and in the end, America gets to
vote who the winner is. It’s called American idol because it’s insinuating that you want the
person you like, admire, or feel is the most talented to win.
In our walk with God, we too might have Christian “idols”- people or leaders who we love and
respect. Some we would even say are people who have changed the trajectory of our life. We
have read their books, donated money, watched their videos. They inspire us to be better for
God. But what do you do when you learn that the same person you supported falls from grace? When
you discover a secret life about them, as stories and evidence surface? I’m not talking
about small things. I’m talking about big things like sexual abuse and affairs, money, greed, and
fraudulent activity. In a nutshell, scandals.
When we learn about their private lifestyle we are prone to call these people “fake”. That
is true, they said one thing but lived another way. But what I also find equally interesting is when
these people fall from grace, why do we feel it is okay to point out their sin, but we overlook our
sin? Sure our own sin was not publicly exposed like them, but somehow we think we get a special
exemption, even though we know God knows and sees everything that is going on in our life.
You know, we have a word to describe this behavior where we say one thing but do another- it’s hypocrisy. If we’re going to point fingers at other people then we need to also reflect on ourselves.
That’s why I would rather be under the wrath of God rather than the wrath of a person. Because
when I come to him with my sin or my struggle, I am met with grace.
If I choose to exercise empathy, I believe that some of these fallen people that we’ve looked up
to and who led secret lives desperately wanted help. Desperately wanted to handle the
trauma or pain in their life in a different way. Maybe they couldn’t find someone to talk to. Maybe they couldn’t find a place where they would be met with grace. Instead, they knew that if they exposed their sin they would be met with shame and guilt. They wanted to be transparent but knew that they would be condemned instead.
Maybe that’s why David said the following when he messed up and sinned against God. David
said, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do
not let me fall into human hands.” (2 Samuel 24:14)
This is a powerful statement. David says God’s mercy is great but do not let me fall into the hands
of humanity. Why did David say this? Because he knew with humanity he would be condemned.
The same with us. Instead of receiving grace, our sin will be talked about. Fingers are pointed at
us. Judgment is spewed in our faces. Words of criticism ring loud and true. And instead of
hearing the words “I didn’t know you were struggling with this, how can I help you?” or “Let’s confess it to God” or “You’re going to get through this” we sometimes hear things like, “You’re
a bad person. I want nothing to do with you. What you did was unforgivable.”
But these statements are lies because nothing is beyond God’s grace. Absolutely nothing. Not
what you did 5 years ago, 10 years ago, or even today. And we see it over and over again in the
Bible that when grace meets sin, grace always wins.
When the woman who committed adultery was supposed to be stoned grace showed up and she
was spared -she left her life of sin. When Zacchaeus the tax collector was up on a tree, Jesus invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house and Zacchaeus was saved. When Moses had no business leading the
Israelites out of Egypt because he murdered someone he was called by the “I am Who I am” and was
changed by grace. When Paul the Christian terrorist realized he was wrong, he said he was the
least of the apostles and not fit to be one, but by God’s grace, he was to spread the gospel. What about Noah the drunk, or Mary the woman possessed by 7 demons? What about Rahab the prostitute, or Abraham the liar?
All of these people sinned and yet God used them. Not because they were good, not because they
earned it, but because of grace. Grace is the reason we are changed and saved. It’s the reason we move from wanting to sin to doing what is right. It’s the air we breathe when we are gasping. It’s living life because we are made new.
We see this picture of grace on the cross when our pure, holy, and righteous God stepped down
from heaven and clothed himself in human flesh. In fact, grace has a name. His name is Jesus Christ.
Jesus took upon himself what he did not do. He who had no sin became sin for us. He shed his
blood and broke his body for us. His death and his resurrection is the power we live by because grace is made visible for all to see. I will not try to understand why God could love me like that. Nor will I not try to fight it. But if I embrace it I will meet grace.
Maybe you’re struggling with sin right now and you think you’re worthless and cannot be used
by God, I beg you to go to God you will see his grace. Maybe you know someone who has sinned and you’ve been giving them a hard time. You have been critical, judgemental, and have said some very cruel and mean things. Go to God and ask him to forgive you of your behavior. But after making things right with God, then go extend that same grace you received from God to the person who has fallen from grace.
Our job is not to stop the flow of grace but to let it spread and help someone else.
Because when grace meets sin, grace will always win.