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How to Respond to the Failures of Others

Written by Chips Blog on . Posted in Chip Ingram

God has given each one of us legitimate desires -- for love, significance, security and purpose. But all too often, we go after these desires in illegitimate and ungodly ways.  

For example, our desire to connect and find intimacy can morph into a tendency to exploit the people around us for our own needs. Or, our desire to accomplish something turns into a desperate need to prove our significance.

When this happens, we experience failure. And our actions often result in unhealthy relationships, failed marriages, and addictions.

This means that when we fail, disappoint or even hurt others, most of the time what we’re actually seeking is a good thing in a bad way.

But here’s the clincher: We all fail. The fact is that we all live in a fallen world and none of us are without some sort of failure and sin in our lives.

In light of this truth -- since we as Christians were saved from our sins through God’s great love for us -- our response to the failures of others should be also be one of love.

So what exactly does this type of love response look like?

Many of us have mistakenly come to believe that “responding in love” either means to excuse someone’s hurtful behavior or to condemn someone for their problems. But it’s neither.

A loving response to someone’s failure is one that responds with both truth and grace. All truth and no grace equals judgment, while all grace without truth is just sentimentalism. Both of these responses don’t help anyone. We all need a balance of both.

The Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, gives us four specific ways we are to respond to one another’s failures in both truth and grace.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It alway protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:6-8) 

  1. Love always protects.

    Ever notice how entertainment websites and TV shows like to draw attention to celebrities who have failed or made mistakes? I think part of the reason why we like watching people fail or do perverse things is because they make us feel a little better about ourselves.

    Yet, when we fail, what we really need is to be covered and loved. We need someone who isn’t going to take what we’ve done wrong and expose it or exploit it. The Bible says, “Love covers a multitude of sins.” While we don’t deny real problems and possible consequences, we also don’t exploit the failures of others either.

  2. Love believes all things.

    In John 4, Jesus has a conversation with a Samaritan woman at a well. As a woman of ill repute, she had five husbands and was currently living with a guy. As a result, this woman is covered in shame and doesn’t think anyone could believe in her. Yet Jesus invites her to receive His love. He believes that the way she’s currently living doesn’t have to have the final say on how she lives for the rest of her life.

    When people in our lives fail, they need us to come alongside of them and say, “I understand that you’ve blown it big time, but I’m for you. I believe that God can still do great things in your life.”

  3. Love hopes all things.

    This isn’t just wishful thinking. This is the kind of hope that results in deliverance and positive change. God has put a supernatural spirit in our hearts and it doesn’t matter how far we’ve fallen because Jesus says we have hope. We hope not because of what we can do, but what God can do in our lives.

  4. Love perseveres through all things.
    This word “persevere” or “endure” has the sense of bravely and calmly bearing problems and ill treatment and persevering under trial. It also means “to remain.” In other words, love stays. It sticks around even when it has to put up with a lot.

    This doesn’t mean staying because of an inability to leave or to set appropriate boundaries. Real love balances truth and grace, sets boundaries and deals with things that shouldn’t be tolerated. And it refuses to give up on someone. It says,
    “I refuse to give up on you, no matter what.”

    This is what Jesus did on the cross. Through His enduring love, He experienced the wrath of God and gave himself as an offering so we wouldn’t have to.

Likewise, when our love protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres, we are demonstrating the kind of love Jesus showed us.

For more information on this and similar topics, check out our online broadcasts and small group resources.   

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