Laurie Coombs is a passionate writer and speaker on the issues of forgiveness, redemption, and the hope found in Jesus. She is the author of Letters from My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness, an incredible true story of grace, mercy, and the redemptive power of God. Her story was featured in Billy Graham’s film, Heaven, as well as on many other national and regional radio and television programs. She is a contributor to Zondervan’s NIV Bible for Women and writes at LaurieCoombs.org. Laurie and her husband, Travis, make their home in Nevada along with their three daughters.
I recently heard a pastor say, "Fail fast and forget about it."* It made me smile and think about what Paul wrote to the Philippians, the scripture I used in my last post, where he said,
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 3:12-14
I know I'm stating the obvious, but we all fail. Everyone of us has failed in the past, and more failures are sure to come to us in the future. Failure, after all, is a given. We are imperfect sinners in need of God's grace and mercy. And while I certainly don't want to give the impression that I think it's okay to sin, I do believe failure has its purpose.
Quite simply, if God wanted us to be perfect, I think He would have made us perfect. But He didn't, and we're not. Now, I don't believe God intended for us to be sinners––He hates sin––but for whatever reason, in His sovereign will, God chose to give man the freedom of choice and with choice comes a propensity toward fallibility––the very thing that shows our need for God.
In the verses above, Paul writes of his imperfections. He freely admits that he is not a perfect man, and if you read the verses directly before those quoted, you'll see that what Paul was pressing on toward was righteousness through his faith in Jesus. Not through his works, not through his religious resume, but through his faith. What we see Paul continually strive toward throughout all his writings in the Bible was to move past his imperfections toward the goal of knowing and loving his Savior more.
Paul made plenty of mistakes in his past. He persecuted Jesus' early followers, even to the point of murder. But when Paul gave his life to Jesus, he knew what we all need to know in the depths of our heart––that he was washed clean by the blood of Jesus and that he was made new. No mistake, no sin could condemn him any longer. They were gone. Paid for and reconciled by God, Himself. This is why Paul could tell the believers in Philippi with complete assurance that he could forget what lies behind and press on to what lies ahead. He failed fast and forgot about it, trusting and believing in the One who took the toll on his behalf. And with Paul as our example, we need to lose our ties to our past sins. We need to realize that we have been washed. That we stand before God forgiven, white as snow because of our Savior. And if God forgives us, I'm pretty sure we ought to forgive ourselves as well.
Fail fast and forget about it.
* I listen to so many sermons by several different pastors on podcast, and I wish I could give credit, but I honestly can't remember who it was! I can tell you, however, that it was either Steven Furtick, Clayton King, or Matt Chandler.