I hate making mistakes. Often, when I make a mistake, it’s been a stumbling block for me. I trip over my mistake, go flying in the air, land and tumble head over heels a couple of times, and then finally come to a halting thud on my back. I lay there in delirium asking myself what just happened! Ever been there?
Why does that happen? For me, I desire so much to do right that when I make a mistake, instead of correcting it and moving on, I panic! The Lord gave me an example to help me understand this a while back. It’s like driving! I overcorrect, except to the extreme! Ever ridden in the car with a new driver? They have both hands on the wheel and they are steering crazily side to side. A car whizzes by on the left, they jerk the steering wheel to the right, then they quickly jerk it back to the left to avoid going off the road. It’s almost comical because your like,”Whoa! Just relax! You only need to make minor adjustments to the steering wheel to stay on the road!” And isn’t that true with life? Overcorrecting can lead to a major accident but minor adjustments keep you on course!
So why do I give in to the desire to overcorrect? Why do I panic? It’s quite simple really: the answer is fear! I’m afraid to disappoint people. I’m afraid of people’s reactions. I’m afraid of my reputation being tainted. I’m afraid of letting people down. I’m afraid that my mistakes will define me. I’m afraid, I’m afraid, I’m afraid.
The thing is, living in fear is no way to live at all. Doing things out of fear only leads to bondage, timidity, and condemnation. So how do we break free from fear when it comes to our mistakes?
1. Confess any sin and claim God’s forgiveness.
Not all mistakes are sin, but the first thing we should do when we mess up is acknowledge any sin. I love how David did this in Psalms 51:3 (NKJV),“For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me.” He owned up to his sin! This takes humility, which we will talk more about later. But just like David, we should take our mistakes to God, confess any sin, and ask for forgiveness.
But here’s where I’ve tripped up in the past. I acknowledge my sin, confess it, ask for forgiveness, beg for forgiveness, and walk away hoping I’m forgiven. I rehash the event in my mind, making a mountain out of a molehill. I not only accept the condemnation of the enemy but condemn myself and internalize the condemnation of others. I come back to God in sorrow and beg for forgiveness for the same things. Ever done that? What am I doing wrong?
The Bible gives the answer in Romans 8:1 (NKJV), “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” You see, I’m walking according to my flesh. I’m looking at things from a fleshly perspective based on what I feel, what others say, etc. Instead, I need to walk according to the Spirit and claim that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus! I need to claim 1 John 1:9 (NKJV) that says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
This is vital because how we handle our mistakes and sin will determine how we walk and live. Will we walk in fear and live in condemnation or will we walk in forgiveness and live in victory?
More scriptures: Micah 7:19, Psalms 103:12
2. Be humble and receive God’s grace.
Mistakes are inevitable and humility is essential in navigating through them. We must not think we are more than we are. We must recognize that we have limits and weaknesses. In a sense, thinking I know everything, that I can do things on my own, or that I’m capable of achieving perfection are all manifestations of pride. Instead, I need to remain humble, submit to God, and recognize my need for Him. And when I do, grace will abound:
“…Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded……Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” – James 4:6-10 (NKJV)
“Surely He scorns the scornful, But gives grace to the humble.” – Proverbs 3:34 (NKJV)
His Word promises He’ll give grace to the humble! But what is grace and why is it a big deal? Grace is God’s unmerited favor and His divine leading of the heart. We don’t deserve this favor but He gives it to us and leads us! Why? So we can live an overcoming life! My bishop has a saying that sums it up best,”Grace is not license to sin but it gives you power to overcome sin.” This is the big deal: Grace gives us power to overcome!
Another amazing thing about God’s grace is that it’s enough to cover our weaknesses and mess ups! The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV),“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”….”
And get this, the Bible encourages us to come boldly before the throne of grace:
“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:15-16 (NKJV)
Our High Priest sympathizes with our weaknesses and His grace makes provision for us to live an overcoming life despite our weaknesses! Take that devil!
3. Anchor our faith in God.
I’ve heard it said that fear is faith in the enemy. Who wants to have faith in the enemy? No one. But often, I find myself misplacing my faith, walking on eggshells through life, and fearfully trying to avoid any misstep. My fear of failure threatens to weaken my faith in God and weakened faith will cause me to waver and lose stability! How can I prevent this? By anchoring my faith in God! An anchor holds something firmly in place. How do I anchor my faith in God? By clinging to His Word! The Bible says in Romans 10:17 (KJV),“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” So if faith comes by hearing then what am I choosing to hear? The lying voice of the enemy or the truth of God’s Word? My choice determines the stability of my faith!
“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” – James 1:6-8 (KJV)
4. Be made perfect in love!
The Bible says in 1 John 4:18 (KJV), “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”
Although the context of this scripture relates to fear of death and judgment, I believe it transcends to any fear including fear of failure. So then, what does it mean to be “made perfect in love”? In this scripture, “perfect” can be translated as “complete” or “finish”. I immediately think of Philippians 1:6 (NKJV) which says,“being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;”
To be “made perfect in love” means to allow ourselves to be completed by God! It means trusting Him and allowing Him to form us, fashion us, and make us into what He intends us to be. Ultimately,it mean believing that He can and will finish us!
Fear of failure says, “I’m a product of my mistakes.” But, being “made perfect in love” means, “I’m a product of the Master”!
So today, let’s arm ourselves with forgiveness, humility, grace, faith, and love! Let’s break the cycle of fear when it comes to our failures. Lets walk in confidence knowing we serve a God that is greater than our weaknesses!