Broken; All Broken

Broken. They are all broken. All your good resolutions are broken. Some of them seemed so simple, yet you could not keep even the simplest of them. You have failed. Now you are a failure. But are you a failure? Let us examine carefully the term "failure," both in the light of the scriptures and in the light of reason.

The term "failure" is not found in the King James Version of the Bible, but a number of Hebrew and Greek words have been rendered "fail". The dictionary defines failure: "A turning out to be unsuccessful, disappointing, or lacking ... one who or that which proves unsuccessful or disappointing..." And you were unsuccessful. You were a disappointment to yourself and to your associates? You were a failure. Or were you?

Aristotle taught that since a man was the sum of his actions, therefore a man's state of being was as were his actions. Because of this teaching, we have come to equate a man's actions with his state of being. Thus, when a man's action fails, we call him a failure. When his action is successful, we call him successful. Is this logical? Are we not creatures of many and varied actions, some of which are failures and some of which are successful? For example, a small child is learning to ride a bicycle. He keeps falling. He is failing in his attempt to ride the bicycle. But he can walk. He can run. He can express joy or sorrow. He can laugh. He can sing. Is he a failure? Or is it his action of attempting to ride the bicycle that is a failure? Do you see the difference? Yes, your efforts did fail, but that did not make you a failure!

Perhaps at this point we should distinguish between failing and sinning. The Greek word hamartia, which we translate "sin", means "to miss the mark". Thus, when we fail, we tend to think that we have sinned. The Greek words translated "fail" are: ekleipo -- to leave out, epileipo -- insufficient, and pipto -- to fall. While the meanings may sound similar, there is a distinction. Nowhere in the King James Version of the New Testament do we find hamartia translated "fail". Nor do we find the other words translated "sin".It is true that failure may be the result of sin, but not necessarily so. Likewise, failure may result in sin. Thus, we see that failure, in and of itself, is not sin.

Now, recognizing that you, yourself, are not a failure, what can you do about your actions that have failed? The most important task is to evaluate your actions in the light of God's word. Sometimes something will seem like a mountain of sin to us, while in reality it is not even sin. On the other hand, something may seem insignificant to us, but in the light of God's word be quite serious. It may be wise to talk with one of your elders, or with your minister. They can see the situation more objectively. If you find that you have sinned, repent. Then do whatever your elders suggest in order to make things right with your fellow man.

Frequently, when someone has failed, we hear the advice, "pick up the pieces and go ahead." This usually does not work. I am speaking from the personal experience of having considered myself a failure for most of my life, and from the advice of one who cared enough to show me a better way.

Hebrews 12:1-2 reads, "Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience th race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." According to Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, the word "weight", which is translated from the Greek word "ogkos", denotes "whatever is prominent, protuberance, bulk, mass..."

Have you not observed a child attempting to carry a large object? The object may not have been very heavy, but it was bulky. Soon all his attention became focused on the object, rather than on where he was going. When we attempt to "pick up the pieces" we soon end up with a "bulky load." Our attention will become focused on the pieces, rather than on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

We may fail many, many times before we accomplish that which we are attempting. The youngster learning to ride the bicycle will fall many times before he can go sailing down the street with his feet on the handlebars. If he should focus his mind on his falls, rather than on learning to ride, then he may very well give up trying to learn. Is that what you want to do? Or are you determined to succeed? If you are determined to succeed, then when you do fall down, go ahead and cry. A fall hurts. Then get up, get your wounds cleansed and dressed, and try again. No, it will not be your last fall: you will fall again. But keep your mind focused on your goal. And as a Christian, should not your goal be that of trying to be like Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Let us keep our eyes turned toward Jesus! If you have not yet obeyed the gospel, what is your goal? To what or to whom are you looking? Is your goal of today worth the sacrifice of Heaven and the torment of Hell tomorrow? Think about it!

Sandra F. Cobble

Published in The Old Paths Archive