That failure did not wreck our relationship or send me into a lifetime of depression. But the realization that I let my father down did sting a bit. I remember the conversation and the feeling of failure. It was the same feeling I have experienced when I have a piece of equipment that I really want to work, and at the most crucial time, it doesn’t. Failure is never received well, and it shouldn’t be. Failure is an imposition at best, and tragic at worst. When brakes fail, people can die. When a military strategy fails, evil can progress. When people fail in a marriage, the long-term effects are staggering. Where the expectations are higher, failure is more damaging.
To fail is to stop functioning normally, or to be unsuccessful, to disappoint the expectations or trust of another, or to be deficient in. There is much failure in our world. So much so that we have almost come to expect it.
What this world needs is more things and people that will succeed. I have a friend who would always talk about the old days and how differently things were made. He may buy a widget at the store and it would break in the first year. He would point to his refrigerator and say, “That is older than you, and it is still cold.” He loved to talk about the older things in his life that succeeded, and would shake his head at newer things that failed.
At the beginning of the Church age, the apostle Paul wrote to a new group of believers and encouraged them to love as Christ loves. He described love, telling them what it is, and what it isn’t. The last thing he said in the description of love is, “Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:8) Wow… love never fails. Now you may be thinking to yourself, “Ha… love has failed me plenty.” But really, love has never failed you. People may have failed you. You may have failed yourself. But love has never failed you. Love never fails. If there is failure in a relationship, it is because one or both of the people failed, not because love failed.
Paul wasn’t saying that people can’t mess up or are not capable of failing. We are. We do. What he was saying is that love is a positive action. It cannot fail because success cannot fail. Love is a successful trait. Winning never fails. Encouragement never fails. Peace never fails. Love never ceases to work. Whenever you love, it accomplishes its task. Whether or not someone receives it or not is another thing. But love never fails to do what it is designed to do.
Today someone will need you to succeed in love. If you love, you will succeed. If you love, love will succeed. What others do with your success is on them, but the last thing you want to hear is your Father say, “You failed me in the love department.” You may not succeed at many things in life which won’t matter. But you can always succeed in loving, because love never fails.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.