“Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’” John 21:17
Nothing can discourage us faster or longer than spiritual failure. Dwelling on previous sin can cause us to lose the heart for serving. We feel unworthy. And plus, what will people think and say if we teach that class or serve in that ministry? Well, the conversation between Peter and Jesus in John 21 is a huge help to overcoming discouragement when you fail.
As Jesus ate on the shore with the disciples, He asked Peter a simple question, “Do you love Me?” Lingering in the back of Peter’s mind had to be remorse for his previous words, “I do not know Him.” Worse still, must have been the memory of Jesus looking his way at that exact moment (Luke 22:54-62).
Peter’s disappointment with himself was discouragement – not doubt. So, Jesus asked Peter the same question three times, giving Peter the opportunity to affirm his love and devotion for each time he had denied knowing the Lord.
Although Scripture records Peter’s flaws and failures, it also shows us what happened when he learned to move past his failure and rely on the Holy Spirit. “But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them…” (Acts 2:14). And when he finished preaching, 3,000 people repented and were baptized.
Jesus called an uneducated, flawed fisherman to become a fisher of men and a shepherd for His sheep. If God was not finished with Peter after his denial, then it’s safe to say He can still use us, too. What previous sin is discouraging you? Are you allowing it to sidetrack your service for the Lord?
When you fail, focus on His power, not your flaws. After all, that’s what keeps us humble and reliant upon the Holy Spirit. He might even use your failure to launch you into a broader ministry than you ever imagined. Spend a few minutes alone with the Lord, confessing that sin, and affirming your love and devotion. He’s not finished with you yet!