A few weeks ago, I wrote about human failure and tried to help (myself, mostly, but hopefully someone else, too) by categorizing it. After all, clarity builds and confusion kills.
One of those categories was imagined non-moral (or “earthly,” I called it) failure. It’s an event or scenario that I wrongly take to be due to my inadequacies, or my missteps. This sort of “failure” is really either not a problem at all or not directly a result of my behaviors.
An example would be praying for the salvation of a relative, then sharing the Gospel with them regularly, and all the while being (generally) faithful and kind toward him or her, but upon seeing no repentance and faith after a few years assuming you have failed. If you have given the real Good News of Jesus, and if you have been, on the whole, honorable and loving in your conduct toward him or her, it is a serious error to think that you have failed.
One more example. Let’s say you’re given a task at work, and you put in the necessary time and sweat to do it well. When the day comes for the project to be handed in though, it turns out your bosses had miscommunicated, and the way you completed the assignment is totally off the mark. Now, if you did listen carefully and you were diligent, you are making a big mistake by wearing the weight of the assignment’s being done incorrectly as an actual failure.
We really do fail. And we really do sin. And the Devil would love to take our attention away from those actions and put it on make-believe failures.
Call real sin sin, real screw-ups screw-ups, and imagined failures what they are: Distractions.