“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV).
The more my mind dwells on God―the more I seek His truth―the more I allow His love and truth to impact my life―the more I become like Him in character. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control start to claim my life. Something else happens as these virtues develop. The closer I grow in my relationship with Him, the more I am aware of my lack of power to live a life that honors Him―to live the very virtues that God is trying to grow in me. The desire is there, but often His standard makes my own effort seem like a failure. The sense of my own inadequacy reveals that I need to surrender more of my life to His life-changing power.
It is what I do with that sense of failure that makes the difference in my life. If I allow my failure to define who I am, then I will remain weak, defeated, and a failure. But if I yield that failure to His refining process, my weakness is taken over by His strength. His power changes and perfects my life. I grow stronger in my relationship with Him. Surrendered to Him, I experience His love for those I find it hard to love. I experience His patience when things don't work out the way I plan. I offer a kindness that I could never offer on my own. I experience His power that is held in check with a gentle spirit. I understand what it means to remain faithful whenever something attempts to shake my commitment. My heart seeks His goodness because I wish to be more like Him. I surrender what I am unable to control to His control, and in doing so I have self-control of my thoughts and actions. My surrender to His higher purpose imparts a joy which can never be destroyed by a less-than-perfect circumstance. His peace reigns because I have given Him all of my own struggles and failures and kept my mind and heart focused only on what is good and pure and uplifting.
Without God's standard to meet in my life, I will not have a sense of failure. I will not have conviction that changes me. However, it is when I am growing in my relationship with Christ and seeking Him, that His standard convicts my life. A sense of failure can inspire me instead of defeat me. When I realize my weakness, I know that I need His power. Instead of wallowing in my sense of failure and running from His grace, I keep seeking more of Him. I learn that His grace is greater than any failure or sin. His grace changes my life, and His power overcomes my weakness. Instead of failure, I learn spiritual growth.
Has failure ever kept you from growth? Be committed and be diligent to seek Him and grow in His grace. “Let perseverance finish its work,” James writes, “so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4, NIV).