There is a famous English saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The meaning here is that it’s often a lot easier to prevent a problem than it is to fix it. This is an idea so universal that it is proverbial wisdom in English, Spanish, Arabic, and, I’m sure, every other spoken language.
Locking your car is easier than retrieving a stolen vehicle. Having a difficult conversation is easier than a relationship imploding. Working out and eating healthy is easier than living with a preventable illness. Avoiding evil is easier than dealing with the consequences of moral failure.
However, as human beings, we often miss the mark. We do things the hard way. We choose the curse over the blessing. We watch porn knowing full-well how toxic and destructive of a habit it is. In the Biblical creation story, Adam and Even forfeited paradise for a fruit.
It’s better not to make a mess, but what we do after the fact is extremely important. It will determine whether we repeat the same mistakes in the future or whether we get back on the right path.
If you are dealing with a moral failure today, remember these 3 things.
1. Repent. Repentance signifies a change of heart. We have control over the direction of our hearts. Resolve to do better and be better next time, and mean it.
Alexander Pope said “To err [mess up] is human, to forgive divine.” People aren’t perfect, and God is forgiving.
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.Proverbs 28:13
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:9
2. Upgrade your processes. Moral failure is a failure of some aspect of the processes we have in place to prevent it. Something went wrong, and we need to figure out what that is. Moral failure is a signal that we need to establish better prevention mechanisms for the future. This may mean spending more time in prayer and spiritual disciplines, establishing accountability relationships, changing the media we consume, the people we hang out with, and the environments we place ourselves in.
Upgrading your processes after moral failure can give you confidence that you won’t repeat the same mistakes again.
There’s a famous definition of insanity, “Doing the same thing and expecting a different result.” Process upgrades are an antidote to insanity.
3. Time will pass. There are consequences for moral failure, but they will not last forever. Deal with them-whether that be negative emotions, relational consequences, and lost opportunities–and then move forward. Reposition yourselves for the new mercies and opportunities that are to come, so that you don’t miss out on those, too, and that starts with #1 above.
Believing that things will be better in the future is called hope. Hope takes courage. People with courage are the ones who transform present failure into future success.
Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me.Micah 7:8