Our Ability To Stumble

4 06 2013

There is a little of the apostle Peter in us all. He vocally (and sincerely) declares his devotion to the Lord Jesus. He would die for Jesus if necessary. When confronted with a band of well armed soldiers, he pulled out a sword and commenced using it with authority. If not stopped by Jesus, one would wonder how many he would have mowed down before his own demise. Peter was skilled in the use of the net not the sword, but you have to admire his zeal and courage.
Alas, an hour or two later his zeal evaporates and his courage fails as he finds himself in a survival mode. He decides to deny Jesus and live to fight another day. The denial was spontaneous, deliberate, and repeated three times. He did what he swore he would never do. Ever been there?
Peter felt that his failure was terminal. He wept bitterly; he then went fishing (John 21:3). He grieved over his own sin, and then he threw in the towel. He gave up on being a fisher of men and went back to being a fisher of fish. His timing was terrible. He quit after the Resurrection! He judged himself to be unworthy, disqualified, and a spiritual loser. Peter’s self imposed quilt complex rendered him inactive and down for the count. Jesus had to seek out Peter personally to deliver a message of restoration. Like many of us, Peter found it easier to cling to guilt rather than grace. Ever been there?
I find myself in Peter’s sandals time and again. Not that I would commit an act of violence against another, but I would consider throwing in the towel for not maintaining a pristine commitment to Jesus. If I were to “poll the audience” of other believers, they would offer guilt, convinced of their own spiritual uselessness, and concede to living a simple life just making a living. There is hope! Jesus did not remind Peter of his sin and failure (he was already convinced of that). Peter was never given a pink slip. He was pressed to express his love for Jesus, then challenged to fulfill his calling.
What can we learn from Peter’s ability to stumble?
1. There is not one sin so bad that you can not be forgiven.
Moses was a murder, Rahab was a harlot, David was an adulterer, Elijah ran from God’s will, Mary Magdalene was possessed of seven demons, and Peter denied the Lord.
2. There is not one forgiven person that God can not use.
It may not be in the same capacity, but it will be in some capacity. Guilt will wear us out and cause us to quit. Some of the sweetest people are those Christians who rediscovered the grace of God after they blew it!
3. There is not one used person who will not sin.
People who God uses are not perfect. They are people who discovered this wonderful cycle of grace.
There is a little of the apostle Peter in us all. We may think we are all washed up and hung out to dry, but then we find that Jesus never gave up on us!

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