Can you give God the glory for your failure?

In the last couple of months, nearly a year really, I’ve been struggling and fighting with God about His plans for my life. He’s so funny. Just when you think you have Him figured out, He shifts you in a different direction.

I’ve been arguing with Him for ages, and now that I’ve made my decision, I’m wondering what exactly was holding me back for this long. I know it was fear partially, but fear of what? I know part of me feared to succeed and not be prepared enough for success, but most definitely the larger part of me feared to fail.

I’m a perfectionist, so I don’t like failure. I’m a people pleaser, so I don’t like disappointing others. Put those two characteristics together, and you’ve got a dangerous combination. But here’s a question we really need to ask ourselves: Should we really be afraid of failure?

Processed by: Helicon Filter;  MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAToday’s verse is 1 Corinthians 10:31.

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

I understand sometimes that the Bible uses figurative language, which means it’s important to understand the context. If you just pick up a Bible verse and take it literally without understanding who it was written to or why it was written, you could have a faith system based on “eat, drink, and be merry” and “then, Judas hanged himself.”

Context is important in Scripture, but sometimes you get a verse that doesn’t require context. It’s so plain, you don’t have to break it down. This is one of those verses.

Whatever you do, do it for God’s glory.

That means, if you succeed, if you fail, if you win, if you lose, you can do all of it for God’s glory, but what does that look like practically? Can you actually fail for God’s glory? Can you actually lose for God’s glory?

Doing anything for God’s glory used to confuse me. I didn’t know how to handle it practically, but as I’ve gotten older, I think I’ve started to grasp the concept a little better. Glory is kind of an old-fashioned word, and in churchy context, it tends to glow in stained glass colors, which I’ve always found make it difficult to fit into real life. Glory is the credit you give for the events and circumstances in your life.

Did you win an award? Who gets the credit? Did you get a great job? Who gets the credit? That’s the context we think about in giving credit to someone. Usually credit is only associated with what we call positive things. If our life encounters negative things, we don’t give credit. We pin blame.

If you get laid off, you don’t give anyone credit for you. You blame people. If you lose someone you love, you don’t give credit for it. You point fingers. But what would happen to our lives and our perspectives if we start giving God credit even for the terrible things that happen to us? Not in a way that accuses Him but in the way that demonstrates we believe He has something better in mind.

That would take your failure and turn it on its head, because if you fail for God’s glory–if you fail and give God credit for allowing you to fail–is it really failure? No, not at all. Everything that happens in our lives happens for a reason, even if it’s something bad. You can learn something from everything that happens to you, and God is big enough to take every horrible thing in your life and turn it into something beautiful. But before He can do that–or, rather, before you can see Him doing that–you have to be willing to give Him the credit for what’s happening in your life.

It’s not easy, because blame feels so much more natural. Well, it is natural. We’re geared to tear others down, to hurt people with our words, to shift responsibility from ourselves to those around us. That’s natural, thanks to our sinful natures, but if you’re a Christ-follower, you aren’t called to a natural life. You’re called to a supernatural life.

Has something awesome happened to you? Give God the credit for it. Has something terrible happened to you? Give God the credit because you trust He’ll make something beautiful from the ashes.

Don’t be afraid of failure or success. God is enough to work with both, and if you have Him on your side, nobody will be able to stop you. Not even yourself.

The ones who matter and the ones who mind

Have you ever been blamed unfairly? I think that’s something everyone experiences. You’re just rocking through life, doing what you do, and somebody comes along and blows up your world when they drop the bomb on you: “You screwed up!”

What do you do when that happens? Do you get angry? Do you respond with a scathing email? Do you crumble in a heap and hate on yourself? There are all sorts of ways to answer an unfair, unfounded accusation. It depends on your personality type. But if you’re a Christ-follower, there’s only one way to react: You react the way Jesus would.

blameToday’s verse is 1 Peter 2:12.

Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

The whole “WWJD” craze burned out years ago, and it’s a shame, because it was a beautiful concept. What a great idea to give yourself a reminder on what Jesus would do every time you had to make a decision!

But just because you don’t see the WWJD bracelets around anymore doesn’t mean that you can’t still ask yourself the question. And you should. In every situation. Not just the good ones or the happy ones.

What I would love to do when people blame me unfairly is to put up a huge sign where everyone in the world can see it, showing them that I’m right and my accuser is wrong. Isn’t that horrible? I’m ashamed to say it, but that’s what’s really in my heart when somebody points out my wrong when I haven’t done anything wrong.

But I don’t like confrontation, so my passive aggressive version of that is to create characters just like the people who piss me off and put them in novels where I make them look like idiots.

Yes, the ugly truth of my vindictive side.

But Jesus didn’t do that. If he ever told stories about anyone, He just told the truth, and if they came off as idiots, it wasn’t because He embellished. And He didn’t get angry either. When He was unfairly blamed, He just took it and quietly pointed out the truth.

So that’s what we’re supposed to do.

What I’ve learned about people who blame others unfairly is that they’re often jumping to conclusions. They need someone to blame, so they pick an easy target. Or they’re trying to get the Powers that Be to ignore their own screw ups, so they redirect attention to someone else’s screw ups instead.

Dealing with people like this is a two-fold process. The first step is simple, but it’s not easy. It’s learning how to hold your temper and your tongue when people point fingers at you that you don’t deserve.

It takes time to learn how to do it, but the more you practice, the easier it gets. And the more you realize why people are throwing you under the bus (to get the attention off their own shortcomings), the easier it is to deal with.

The second step takes a lot more effort and long-term planning. It’s living a life that contradicts anything negative that’s said about you. It’s conducting yourself with behavior that is above reproach, so that even if someone accuses you of wrongdoing, nobody would believe it.

Wow, can you live a life like that? Jesus did, and that means you can too. No, it doesn’t mean you have to be perfect. It just means you need to live the way Jesus did. You make decisions the way Jesus did—not selfishly or anxiously, but with the greater good in mind. Do your best to get along with your coworkers. Don’t get dragged into drama. Try to be a peacemaker. When you make a mistake, take responsibility for it. And always, always do what’s right.

If you live your life that way, it doesn’t matter what anyone accuses you of. No accusation will stick.

If someone has blamed you for something you did wrong, yes, take responsibility for it. Step up. But if you aren’t wrong, respond quietly and gently with the truth and let the pieces fall where they will.

Because the people who mind don’t matter…. and the people who matter don’t mind.


Have you ever gotten in trouble for something that you didn’t do? Or have you ever taken the blame for someone else’s mistake? I’ve been there before, and it’s not much fun. You feel cheated. Or, at least, that’s what I feel when things like that happen. But I also don’t have any good feelings for the people who should be punished. In fact, I usually get downright angry at them, mostly because I feel like they should step up and claim responsibility for their own stupid mistake so I don’t have to pay for it.

This is what I thought about when I read today’s verse.

2 Corinthians 5:21

21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin,[a] so that we could be made right with God through Christ.


Just think about that for a moment.

First off, Jesus never sinned. Not once. Some people have a hard time beliving that. Heck, I have a hard time believing it sometimes too. But that’s what the Bible says, and so I believe it. I don’t understand it, but do you want a God you can understand? I don’t.

Jesus never sinned. He was tempted. But it’s not a sin to be tempted.

So, Jesus never sinned. He was perfect. He never did anything wrong. He always did the right thing. He loved people who didn’t deserve to be loved with no expectation of recompense. He healed the sick and brought the dead back to life and never asked for anything in return (other than faith). He was a friend to the friendless, hope to the hopeless, a light in the darkness. And the people turned on Him and killed Him.

Now, there’s no point in discussing who killed Jesus because we all did. It might have been the religious leaders at the time who convinced the people into turning against Him. It might have been the Romans who nailed Him to the cross. But no one could kill Jesus unless He let them. Jesus went willingly for a reason, and that reason was to make a way for us to have a relationship with God through His death. So if you want to point fingers at who killed Jesus, look in the mirror.

Jesus, who had never done anything wrong, was punished for me.

I love people, but I don’t know if I love anyone enough to let them do to me what Jesus let happen to Him. Beyond the physyical pain. Beyond the public humiliation. God turned Jesus into Sin itself and poured out His wrath on Him. On those hours on the cross, Jesus paid for every sin I would ever commit, along with all the sins of the entire world. He suffered the punishment for the entire population of Earth for all time.

I can’t even imagine it. I can’t begin to describe what it must have been like. Because I’ve never been punished for my sins. I’ve suffered consequences from them, but that’s not the same as being punished for them. It’s something I’ve never experienced, and I never will, thanks to Jesus.

It boggles my mind that He would do something like that for me.

And I complain when I get a lecture for someone else’s mistake? It doesn’t even compare. How can I grumble and feel angry toward someone who’s wronged me on such a minor level when Jesus could take the blame for everything I’ve ever done wrong and feel nothing but love for me?

He never hated us. Do you realize that? Even as He was suffering, even as He died, He never felt anger toward us. He loved us.

I don’t understand that kind of love. Even when I’m willingly taking the punishment for people who deserve it, I can’t help but feel slighted. Or I feel like they should appreciate me more than before. Or I think that I’m such a good friend and they’re lucky to have me. Or I think that I’m such a good Christian. But Jesus didn’t do that. All He wanted was to keep us safe, to make a way for us to be free. There was no desire for exultation or elevation when He died on the cross. He was here on a rescue mission.

So is it wrong to expect people to respect us? No. There are some common courtesies people should uphold. And is it wrong to call someone out when they’ve done something wrong? Well, no. Right is right; wrong is wrong. And is it wrong for us to be blamed for other peoples’ mistakes? Of course. When you’re doing your best to live the way you should and you have to take responsibility for others, it’s certainly not right. . . . . but the world is broken. And if accepting the blame for someone else will bring peace between people, don’t you think it might be worth it? Granted, it varies with every situation. But it has to start somewhere.

This is something I’m working on. I always try to love people, but people are a lot easier to love when they behave. When they do the right thing. When they make the right choice. But Jesus loved me before I made right choices. And He still loves me now, even though I make wrong choices all the time. So that’s what I need to do.

We say we want to live like Christ, but do we really understand what that means? To love people the way Jesus did is to love them even while you’re being punished for them.