Poverty and shame will come to him who neglects discipline, but he who regards reproof will be honored.
—Proverbs 13:18

Failure is inevitable. We are all going to mess up at some point. And while God’s grace erases the eternal consequences of our sin, He does not erase the temporary consequences of our sin. Failure has a price tag. That price tag may include a bankruptcy, a termination from a job, a divorce, or even imprisonment. Regardless of the price tag of our failure, we have a choice: we can learn from that failure or we can keep on repeating it.

The fact that God allows you to suffer temporary consequences of your mistake is a sign of God’s love for you, not His hatred of you. Think about it this way: Imagine a cattle rancher who puts up a barbed-wire fence around his property. Why does he put up that fence? Because he hates the cattle? No, the rancher puts up a fence around his acreage because he cares about his cattle’s well-being. He wants to prevent them from wandering onto a busy highway or into the hands of a rustler. Every time a cow presses against that boundary, the animal feels the sting of the fence. It’s a reminder to that cow to stay within the boundaries. In the same way God has established boundaries in our lives, and whenever we go past those boundaries, we will feel the pain of that action. Not because God hates us, but because He loves us.

Although we don’t have a choice about whether we pay the price for our failures, we do have a choice about whether we are going to learn from our failures.

Instead of viewing your mistake and its consequences as unwelcome circumstances over which you have no control, develop a different perspective regarding failure. Start thinking about your mistake and the consequences as the fee you have paid to a consultant to help you improve your life.

When I turned 40 years old, I hired a consultant to help me review my life goals and plans. During that day I took copious notes. Two decades later, I still look at those notes. Since I paid the consultant a lot of money to give me instruction, I listened very carefully. In the same way, you have probably paid a steep price for the big mistake in your life. Why would you ignore the advice you are getting and continue in your failure rather than learning from that mistake?

And that leads to a very important word in the Bible–the word “reproof.” Reproofs are the lessons that failure provides. The Bible describes two different ways to respond to reproofs that come into our lives when we make mistakes. The wise person learns from the negative circumstances that come into his life, while the foolish person ignores them.

***

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Don’t Mess Up for Free” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2016.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.