The New England Patriots have established one of the strongest teams in the NFL for the better part of the last two decades. They’ve been so successful that scandals have accused them of cheating their way to wins. But even with one of the best statistical quarterbacks of all time, a coach with over 250 wins, and 6 of the last 18 Super Bowl championships that doesn’t make them perfect. In that same span, they have lost another 3 super bowls, and in 2002 and 2008, they didn’t even win their division. So what does a team of that caliber do when they fail? They come back again and aim to patch the holes so that the next season, they will win again.
The antithesis of the Patriots is the Cleveland Browns. Since 2001, they have played in exactly 1 playoff game, and they lost that game. They have only managed to have 2 winning seasons. In theory, they have the same approach as New England: Fix the holes and try again next year.
God’s people at times seemed like the Cleveland Browns. A new king offers potential to rebound from the idolatry, and again, the king does evil in the sight of the Lord. Manasseh and Amon both did evil in the sight of God and it resulted in consequences for not just for them, but for the nation they led as well.
This pattern was so prevalent in Israel that God used an illustration with Hosea and Gomer to demonstrate the spiritual unfaithfulness that permeated their culture. In chapter 14, Hosea offers an invitation to repentance. God offers not just a stay of his judgment, but blessings if they will return to Him. It is the way of the Lord that guides the right and prudent, but foolish people depart from His plans.
God knows exactly what you do. He has searched and known you, from sitting and standing, to speaking, to your plans and hopes. It is for this cause that the Psalmist ends the 139th Psalm with this plea: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Hebrews 3 however, urges us to work together as a team, encouraging and pushing one another daily so that we do not depart from God, and find ourselves hardened in the deceitfulness of sin.
It’s not a matter of when you fail. The Patriots don’t always win (even though it feels like it sometimes). When they lose, they turn around and challenge each other to eliminate the errors that cost them the game, and come back to win again. We too WILL fail. It’s not a matter of failing, it’s a matter of being content with failure. You shouldn’t be content with spiritual failure in your own life or the lives of your brothers and sisters. Let’s work together as a team so that when one of us falls, the rest pick him up and spur him forward in his pursuit of God!