by Dr. Charles Stanley
Wednesday June 23, 2004
InTouch Early Light Devotional
Failure - The First Step to Victory
As Christians, we often encounter some unusual paradoxes. A prime example is Jesus' comment that the first shall be last and the last shall be first. (Matthew 20:16) Hard sayings like this tend to block up our path until we remember that we have been called out of this world into a new way of living. Self-effort, which works so well for the natural man, must be abandoned by the Spirit-filled believer. That is why God sometimes allows us to experience failure in our pursuit of holiness. He wants to show us how totally dependent we are on Him. When seen in that light, our human failures can actually be viewed as friends to instruct us rather than enemies to be resisted.
This perspective is not easily obtained. From earliest childhood, we are urged to work hard, strive for excellence, and do our very best. We are told to set goals and then pursue them with diligence and determination. All of these virtues are useful in their place, but when conscientiously employed, they can betray us by suggesting that our salvation lies in them. They whisper to the human ego, "You have all that it takes to be successful." Gradually, if we pay attention to these voices, our confidence begins to shift from trusting in the Spirit to relying upon the flesh. God will not accept this. If necessary, He will engineer circumstances that will defeat our best efforts and bring us to our knees in humility until we learn to live by the faith which He supplies.
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