Daily Devotional: Friday, March 1 - Fail Trying

“But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.” — Galatians 6:4-5 (ESV)

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One aspect of the sports world that doesn’t get talked about often is the sidelines. What’s happening out in the action is usually where the cameras and the conversation lies. But what is going on over by the bench is also important for different reasons. The sidelines are where players get their rest and hydration or the medical attention they need. It’s where the coaches strategize and communicate. It’s where the backup waits to step in if needed. It’s where the foundational structure of a team takes place.

But unfortunately, when it comes to team sports, some players never leave the sidelines. They are the third or fourth string that warms the bench and never gets into the game. They show up to the team meetings and go through the same training and practice, get coached by the same people, and make friends with the starters who get all the attention. But they are perpetual sideline figures, not necessarily of their own choosing. I’ve had friends who played team sports that ended up in this role, and it was a challenging one, at best.

Christian author and speaker Bob Goff made a remark some time ago in which he said he loved when people “fail trying instead of fail watching.” I believe this raises a really good observation when it comes to our spiritual life, as well as our life on the field or court of play. Our life in the Kingdom of God is far different than the one here on earth. Unlike the world of sports, there are no sideline-sitters in His Kingdom. God’s sidelines are busy and bustling with ministering and leading and supporting roles. Nobody gets to just sit out of the game and not participate.

See, God wants us to adopt Bob Goff’s concept of “fail trying.” He invites us into participation with Him in the active role He is playing in the world and the game of life. He doesn’t want us to “fail watching” when our gifts and experiences and personalities are useful to Him in the work He is doing. This doesn’t mean our daily lives need to be packed with literal activity all the time, but it does mean there is no room for passivity. Whether it be through prayer, participation in ministry, leading family and others, involvement in church, connection with other believers in community, or spiritual growth of your own, doing life with Jesus necessitates an active relationship.

He welcomes us to the game and wants everyone doing their part in it. Galatians 6:4-5 (ESV) tells us, “But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.” We don’t get to check out.

God knows we’re not going to participate perfectly and failure will be part of the game. But He’s OK with that. He’s just glad we’re in the game, having surrendered our lives to Him. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit — fruit that will last” (John 15:16). And when we fail, there is forgiveness, and the invitation still stands to get back out there and try again.

Don’t be a sideline Christian. Play your part in what God is up to and be brave enough to “fail trying.”

— Katherine Singer

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