I was having a conversation with someone on the street a while back and this individual felt like they had really blown it as far as their relationship with God was concerned. They felt like they reneged on their commitment, that they had let too many people down and that they were lost without any hope. Whenever I am confronted with that situation or similar issues I always like to share with people Psalm 103:14 which speaks of God’s compassion, “For He Himself knows our frame, He is mindful that we are only dust.” There is always hope! God knows that we are not perfect. God knows that we will mess up. We all fall short of God’s glory. Sometimes when we fall, we fall hard and sometimes when we mess up we mess up bad. But the mercy and grace of our Lord is rich. As Paul said in Romans 5:20 “Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound.” As Paul points out in the next few chapters while that does not give us a license to sin, it does prove to us the depths to which God has gone to set us free from the penalty and power of sin in our lives. God sent His Son so that we would no longer be slaves to sin but that we would be equipped and empowered to live our lives as servants of the Most High God.
And yet, because we are still not perfect this side of Glory, it still begs the question, what do you do if you mess up? I suggest three things to keep in mind in such a situation. First, if you mess up fess up. The Lord is ready to forgive us! King David after he had committed adultery and then murder to try and hide his sin ultimately confessed his iniquity to God. In Psalm 51 David cries out for forgiveness, asking the Lord to renew his heart and restore the joy of his salvation. David knows that the Lord will respond to a humble and repentant heart that turns from sin and turns to Him. The Lord forgave David and He will forgive you too. The Bible says in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Our God is a forgiving God! If you mess up, fess up.
Second, after you fess up, make up. It is always important to make amends to others. Yes, I know that in Psalm 51 David said to God in verse 4 “Against You only have I sinned.” In that verse David is not saying that no one else besides God was hurt or betrayed. David is saying that he has despised God by not just violating God’s moral law but by doing harm to those made in the image of God. Anytime we hurt or mistreat someone we are despising God and His creation. Let me give a simple illustration. My granddaughter always colors and draws pictures for me. Many find their place on our fridge for a while, some make it to work and a while back one made it to the trash can in my study. I spilt my coffee on it one Saturday morning while I was working so I put it in the little wastebasket near my desk. My granddaughter found it a few days later, picked it out of the trash can and said, “What’s this?” Oh the look she gave me. She was hurt and a little upset. That picture that she made, her special creation had just been tossed aside so carelessly. We do that to God’s special creations all the time. We drop a careless word here and there and hurt someone. Sometimes the words we drop or the actions we take are not careless at all; sometimes they are pointed and sharp and have just the effect we mean for them to have. People, all people, no matter where they stand on any issue or where they are at any place in their spiritual journey, no matter how wrong we may think they may be, no matter how different their views may be from ours – all people are special creations of God, created in His image. For that reason, we should treat everyone with a certain level of respect.
Sometimes we forget to do that, we offend others and we offend God. We mess up. When that happens we need to fess up and make up. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said in Matthew 5:23 “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” In this verse we clearly we see that the Lord places a very high priority on reconciliation and right relationships with other people. If we are at church and it is in the middle of the offering time, and we realize that we have offended our brother we are to get up and go make things right with our brother.
There is one more thing I would say we need to do. To recap, when we mess up, fess up. After we fess up, make up and finally, after we make up, NEVER GIVE UP! I hate to tell you this but even people that you consider the most devout and most faithful Christians are going to blow it from time to time. Paul talked about the struggle to always do right in Romans chapter 7. In Philippians chapter 3 Paul talked about the fact that he knew he was not perfect, that he knew he had not arrived yet. I love what Paul said in Philippians 3:13
Phil 3:13 “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
We all fall short. We all mess up from time to time. But just because we mess up does not mean we should give up. Don’t ever give up! God is not through with you. He made too much of an investment in you to give up on you. He will equip you and He will empower you. You are not perfect, you still have some work to do, but it is God who is working in you. Don’t ever give up! I am so encouraged by the fact the Bible records for us Simon Peter’s heartbreaking denial of the Lord on the night that Christ was betrayed. Simon Peter betrayed Jesus, not just once but three times! I know that Simon Peter was crushed. I know that he was heartbroken. But despite his denial, despite his failure the Lord did not give up on Simon Peter. With some encouragement Simon Peter pressed on. Simon Peter did not give up. He allowed God to continue to work in him and through him and the Lord used Simon Peter in a great way. The Lord gave Simon Peter the privilege of preaching that sermon on the Day of Pentecost and 3,000 souls were added to the kingdom! Don’t give up! Press on! You will be amazed at what God can do!
If you mess up, fess up, make up and never ever give up. Until next time, stay strong in the faith.