Failure is probably one of the great fears of people.  We fear not measuring up.  We fear trying with all of our strength and it not be enough.  The fear of failure can cause us to do many things like running from responsibility, overcompensating with our strengths, or a sheer reliance on self. 

In Romans 3:23 Paul shatters our understanding of human achievement.  He writes, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  All human beings are failures. I don’t say this to depress you but so that we can think rightly about failure. All of us are born sinful and cannot live up to God’s standard. We will all try and fail. We will all seek to glorify self over God. 

I think it’s helpful for us to think of failure in the overall context of our lives and what the gospel says about us.  In Romans 3:24 Paul further explains the good news of our failures that we “are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” We have all fallen short. Our sin leads to death. But we are justified not by the works of our hands or the efforts of our hearts.  We are justified by grace, the unmerited favor of God. We are justified by grace through the redemption that is in Christ, that He died for our sins.  Or as 2 Corinthians 5:21 explains that Jesus who knew no sin, became sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. The good news about our failure is that we have an Almighty God that accomplished the impossible through the Son who was the perfect sacrifice.

So how should the gospel demolish our fear of failure? First recognizing we are all failures should cause us to stop comparing ourselves to one another. In the gospel none of us are better than another. The question is not how we measure up to other people. The question is whether we measure up to God’s standard. None of us measure up to God’s standard. The gospel levels that playing field so that we no longer strive to impress one another or prove ourselves base on our own merit.

The gospel also demolishes our fear of failure because it redirects our hope from the accolades and recognition of man to redemption in Christ. We will never be perfect in the eyes of man. Our perfection is in the hands of God and will not happen this side of heaven. We must then ask if our acknowledgement of our propensity to fail should lead to apathy or indifference?

No we should not be indifferent to failures. If we hope in God we recognize our inability and His infinite ability. Our hearts should turn from performing to fear of God and obedience. Grace should lead us to worship and glorify the Lord.  Paul further encourages us in Philippians 1:6 by proclaiming that, “He who began a good work will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Christ does not fail and what He started in our salvation will be completed.  The gospel says that apart from Him we are all failures, but in Him we are not failures.