Have you ever felt like you were a failure? Maybe you’ve had a setback? Are you having a hard time growing and moving forward?
When you feel like a failure, what do you do? Failing can be frustrating and scary. To overcome, you must get up and try again—you must persevere.
In his booklet, The Seven Laws of Success, Herbert W. Armstrong defines the sixth law as perseverance or stick-to-it-iveness. He writes, “Yes, nine in ten, at least once or twice in a lifetime, come to the place where they appear to be totally defeated! All is lost!—apparently, that is. They give up and quit, when just a little more determined hanging on, just a little more faith and perseverance—just a little more stick-to-it-iveness—would have turned apparent certain failure into glorious success. I know! I have reached that point more than once!”
Mr. Armstrong faced failure many times over his 93-year life—economic setbacks, bankruptcy and losing it all in a flash depression. He thought Ambassador College would fail, but he kept on and didn’t quit. He had life experiences that enabled him to explain this law of success.
Everyone comes to points where they think they’re a failure. In these moments, don’t quit! Get back up and try again!
Proverbs 24:16 says, “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.” You will fall, but if you are a just person, you will rise up again. Riseth can mean “to persist.” We have to persist, persevere, try again and get help. The just gets back up, repents and moves forward; the wicked just fall into mischief. “Falleth” and “fall,” in this verse, are two different words. The second instance of “fall” means stumbling and bumbling around without trying to change. The wicked continue in the wrong direction.
Romans 2:13 says, “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” The just get up and make an effort to do the right thing—they make changes.
Christ uses an example of two men praying to God. The first thanks God that he is so great, and the other man says: Forgive me; I’m a sinner. Christ said the second man was justified because he repented. The man didn’t just say he was sorry, but got busy and made changes.
Mr. Armstrong writes in The Incredible Human Potential: “No human being is strong enough to do this by himself! He must seek, and in faith receive, the help and power of God. Even with God’s power he will not overcome such forces easily or all at once. It is not easy! Christ plainly said the way to ultimate salvation is hard, difficult (Matthew 7:13-14). It’s a constant battle—a struggle against self, the world, and the devil. The creation of character comes through experience. It takes time! … The truly converted Christian is not yet perfect! God looks on the heart—the inner motive—the real intent! If he is trying—if he gets up whenever he falls down, and in repentance asks God’s forgiveness, and sets out to do his very best not to make that mistake again—and to persevere with renewed effort to overcome, God is rich in mercy toward that man in his striving to overcome.”
When we fall, we must get up, try again, and get help to walk in the right direction. This can apply to anything—whether it’s doing better at your homework or improving your prayer life. Get help from God, your parents, your minister, your teachers or coaches. Use that help to get up and try again.
Sometimes we think the problem is too hard and don’t want to do the right thing. How do we overcome this weakness in our human nature? Matthew 19:26 says, “But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” There are a lot of things in life that we can’t or don’t want to do by ourselves, but with God it is possible. What does this mean? Why does Christ say this? It teaches us something about an attitude toward perseverance.
The context of this verse gives us more understanding about getting God’s help to persevere. “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” (verses 16-20).
Christ only named some of the commandments. The Ten Commandments are broken into two overarching commands: love toward God and love toward your fellow man. Christ doesn’t list the first commands regarding love toward God or the last commandment—don’t covet.
Christ responds in verse 21, “… If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” Christ lists the commandments this man was evidently not keeping. “But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions” (verse 22). This hit him between the eyes! This young man had a lot of things and didn’t want to put God first. He put his material possessions before God.
This man went away sorrowful. Did Christ tell him to do this? This man chose to go away in sorrow. He chose to quit, thinking: I can’t do that. Christ gave him a positive instruction—He simply told him what to do! There is no problem with having wealth. It was just the way this man was handling it. He didn’t think he could obey God and just walked away sorrowful—he made no effort.
There is no indication that this man was violently rejecting what Christ told him; he simply walked away sorrowful—I can’t do that.
Just think! This man was talking directly to Christ! Christ could have helped him immensely, but he didn’t go to Him for help, instead he gave up and walked away. “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven” (verse 23). Mark 10:24 says, “… Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!” It is not just because he had wealth but that he trusted in it as his god.
Matthew 19 continues, “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Verses 24-26). This man could have changed. But he didn’t get help and then work to move forward. Instead, he just went away sorrowful.
Don’t go away sorrowful. With God, all things are possible. This is the attitude we need to get up and try again. This is the attitude we need to persevere.
If you look at the history of Christ’s original apostles, they didn’t start out perfect. Peter denied Christ three times before he received God’s Spirit. God calls people to grow, and that requires persevering when we fall.
When you face challenges, remember this man’s attitude and don’t walk away sorrowful, thinking: I can’t do it. You can do it because with God, all things are possible! Get up and get the help you need to keep trying. Then take practical steps forward.
Hebrews 10:38 says, “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” The just person gets back up again by faith because he knows God will help him. Mr. Armstrong continues in the Incredible Human Potential, “It is only the one who quits and gives up (Hebrews 10:38)—who rejects God, and God’s way, and rejects Christ as his Savior—who neglects or turns from this direction of God’s way, in his mind and heart (in his inner intent)—who deliberately and intentionally in his mind—or, from continued neglect—turns from Christ—who is lost.”
When you make a mistake, don’t quit! Get help and try again! You ultimately will succeed!
Mr. Armstrong writes, “What is your attitude? When you have sinned, have you been carelessly indifferent about it? You are on dangerous ground. Do you justify it, feel others are to blame? That will never justify your sins. Do you still desire to go God’s way? Then it’s not too late. Turn from sins, confess your sins—to God. Repent! Pick yourself up, with Christ’s helping hand, and go on overcoming and growing spiritually.”
How do you practically get help from God when you don’t want to do what is right? James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” When you are facing a temptation, you must go to God (and be open with your parents).
Satan broadcasts impulses in an attempt to get you to act now and not think about the consequences of your decision. But you need to stop and pray about it! As you draw close to God in prayer, Satan will flee. That is a promise from God!
The man in Matthew could have said to Christ, I don’t want to sell all I have, but I know it’s the right thing. Could you help me? Christ would have helped him! And God the Father, and Jesus Christ will help you if you ask!
You face a choice when battling sin: Either go away sorrowful or really draw close to God for the help to win the battle. Why not go to Him before you make a mistake? You have to draw close to God if you want victories in your life. Even if you don’t feel like doing the right thing, ask God to help you want to do the right thing. We don’t think like God without His help. But God is eager to help you get your mind thinking in the right direction!
You can succeed! You can persevere!
Remember: Don’t go away sorrowful. With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.