“…there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”
Failure is a lonely place. Though people of my generation were taught that we ought to be gracious losers, no one really wants to back a loser, gracious or otherwise. That may be one of the reasons the word “sin” has such potential energy. Inject it in most conversations and sparks fly.
The word frequently used for sin in the Bible carries the connotation of missing the mark, akin to the concept of the archer missing his target with his arrow. That is why we call some people straight arrows. The phrase itself is a mispronunciation of the biblical straight and narrow.
Missing the mark is simply another way of expressing failure. When the target is proper (good, right, or decent) human behavior, to miss it is to fail as a human being. No wonder we are offended by the label, sinner. Whether it fits or not, it is a finger pointed at the core of our very being.
Only the most narcissistic among us deny the label ever fits. “Nobody’s perfect” is a salve we apply to soothe the deeper, reasoned ramifications the phrase implies—that we are not as we should be—there is something wrong with the best of us.
Contrary to popular belief, God’s intention in recognition of our sin, and His penchant for pointing it out to us, is not condemnation, but compassion. He has no need to condemn us, if we are honest, we take care of that pretty well all by ourselves. God answers our guilt with grace and failure with forgiveness.
The fly in the ointment is that we must accept God’s compassion, grace, and forgiveness with surrender to His divine sovereignty. Subsequently, when we inevitably fail, God sticks with us. Jesus is described as both the author and finisher of our faith. He neither leaves nor forsakes those who are His friends.
But there’s more to it than that, God uses failure to build success upon. When we stumble and fall, He lifts us up—a little higher, stronger, and wiser, than before.