Bible Church International

The Anxiety of Failure

What Keeps You Up at Night? (Part II)


Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 25:14-18 (NIV)
14 "Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.
15 To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.
16 The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more.
17 So also, the one with the two talents gained two more.
18 But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.

            God has designed the Christian life to be a life of faith.  We are saved by believing what Jesus Christ has done for us on the cross, and are sustained by believing that Jesus will always be with us as we face all the difficulties of life. Paul simply puts it, “We live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).  The fact is that the more we learn to trust God, the more joyful and peaceful we become in life.

            Joy and peace are great blessings from the Lord, and it is possible for all of us to experience them despite our circumstances. If you examine the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:4-7, this is exactly what he is trying to convey to the Philippian church. He wrote these words to them during his first imprisonment in Rome. For sure, as a prisoner, he had terrible conditions there, yet he was able to maintain a very positive spirit, challenging the believers to rejoice in the Lord always. The question is, “how is this even possible?”  The key is really faith in two major truths about God.

  1. 1.      “The Lord is near”no matter what situation you’re in, the Lord is always near you. He promises never to leave you.
  2. 2.      “Do not be anxious about anything . . . present your requests to God”we should never worry because we have the privilege of praying for anything and everything. God is able to handle your source of worry.

            If you notice, the second truth is one of the most basic principles that I want to impress to you in our new series, “What Keeps You Up at Night?” In fact, I am encouraging all of us to keep this verse in memory. Every time we find ourselves worrying, we should quickly take the source of our worries and cast them to God in prayer.  Let’s recognize that our faith in God cannot go hand in hand with our worries.

            Last Sunday, we spent our time dealing with anxiety of the future. This morning, I would like to highlight another area of anxiety, the anxiety of failure. It is interesting because when you consider some great men in the Bible, you find men who had to overcome the fear of failure in order to accomplish the tasks that God had given them. One great example is Moses. When you go to the book of Exodus, the Lord appeared to Him through a burning bush on Mount Horeb to extend His call to deliver Israel from slavery in Egypt. But instead of being excited about fulfilling his call from God, he became worried and started coming up with several excuses why he couldn’t do what God was asking him to do. Exodus 3-4 records this incident and you will find three big excuses that Moses presented to God.

Exodus 3:11  - ( “I am a nobody”- The authority issue)
11 But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"

Exodus 4:1 – (“I am not believable”- The credibility issue)
1 Moses answered, "What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, 'The Lord did not appear to you'?"

Exodus 4:10 (“I don’t have the ability” – The ability issue)
10 Moses said to the Lord, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue."

            With all these excuses, God had to keep reminding him that He was more than sufficient for Moses to be able to work. In fact, He revealed to him a name that expresses this truth - “I AM THAT I AM” (Ex. 3:14). This title is significant because it emphasizes the self-existence of God and the sufficiency of God. It means that He is so powerful that He can sustain Himself. This is the God Moses needed to trust as he accomplished his responsibilities.

            You know, it is possible that there are many Christians who miss accomplishing great things for God because they are always making excuses.  They are allowing their fear of failure to get the best of them. My prayer is that none of our BCI people will miss experiencing great accomplishments for God. And because of this, I would like us to focus on the parable of the talents, which Jesus gave in Matthew 25. If we analyze this parable, we can clearly see that this type of anxiety was portrayed by the third servant. Allow me to highlight three essential principles in this parable that will help us overcome the anxiety of failure.


            This parable by Jesus Christ focuses on a wealthy master who decided to generously bless his three servants by entrusting them with huge amounts of money that they can use for business opportunities. During the time of Jesus Christ, a “talent” was silver money which weighed between 58 and 80 pounds. The value of a talent in those times was about 10, 000 denarii, and every denarius were equivalent to a worker’s minimum wage for a day.

            Imagine how generous was this gift! To appreciate the value of the talent, you have to multiply your daily wage by 10, 000. For example, if you are earning $35, 000 a year and you annually work 260 days. You are making $134 a day. Now, in your case, a talent is equivalent to $134 X 10,000, which is $1, 340, 000. How many people do you know that would be willing to entrust an such amount of money to you? Here’s another way of looking at it: with $35, 000 a year, how many years would it take you to save $1, 340, 000? Many people are retiring nowadays without this much money in their savings account. So, even one talent could certainly be considered a generous gift.

            Going back to the parable, the master was willing to entrust his riches to his three servants. To the first, he gave 5 talents ($6, 700, 000). Then to the second servant, he gave 2 talents ($2, 680,000). Lastly to the third, he gave 1 talent ($1, 340,000). Obviously, the truth being driven across in the parable is that God has given every single one of us abundant opportunities to be successful in life. We are all given gifts of time, talent, and treasure. James reminds us about this truth as well.

James 1:17 (NIV)
17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

            Indeed, each one of us has received something from the Lord. Well, some might argue and say, “It cannot be equal opportunities because the master did not give equal amounts of talents?” To answer this question, the key is found in the phrase in verse 15 - each according to his ability. The Lord, being our creator, knows us very well and He knows our capacities and limitations. This phrase means that God gave each one of us enough gifts based on our capacities and limitations. Therefore, in the eyes of God, all of us have equal opportunities since his expectation will be solely based on what He has given us.

            The crucial question for us is whether or not we are maximizing the opportunities based on what we have received from God. The sad part of this parable is seen on how the third servant handled his opportunity. Because of the worry of failure, he decided to just hide his talent. He literally did not do anything with his opportunity.

            Worry can paralyze us. Instead of maximizing the opportunities we have received, we may be throwing everything away by hiding our gifts and talents. I hope we learn to overcome our fears and worries. It is our duty to do our best, and leave the results to God. The encouragement is that God gave us equal opportunities to succeed in this life. Cling to this promise found in

I Corinthians 15:58:

58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

            Don’t miss the principle behind this verse – as long as you are doing your best in serving the Lord according to the opportunities He has given you, your life will not be wasted.


            Another important truth that we can highlight in the parable is found in verse 19.

19 "After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.

            It is important for us to notice that the master did not return right away. He provided an ample amount of time for the servants to gain full return of their investments.

            Now, some of you who are familiar with business investments will appreciate the significance of this. If you would invest some money in business, usually, the initial years are not the most profitable periods. Why? Those years are filled with tweaking and adjusting until you perfect your business systems and products. The same is true in your careers, right! The initial years are considered your growing and improving years. If you stay committed in doing your craft, eventually you become much better in what you are called to do.

            Beloved, none of us will automatically be good at what we are doing. I believe that we should be appreciative of the fact that the Lord is giving us enough time to improve our gifts and talents. Talking about the possibility of experiencing some failures in our journeys, the truth is that none of us are perfect. We will surely make some mistakes and fail several times, but what matters most to God is our willingness to get up when we fall and return to the game. Our failures don’t have to define who we are and who we will become.

            One noticeable fact in the Bible is that it does not hide the failures of some great Biblical heroes.

  • Abraham lied about his wife Sarah
  • Jacob tricked his brother Esau for his father’s blessings
  • Moses lost his temper, and instead of speaking to the rock, he struck it in his anger.
  • David committed adultery with Bathsheba
  • Peter denied Jesus three times

            Yes, these men all failed. However, they did not allow their failures to be final. They repented and kept trusting the Lord to be gracious to them. One of the passages I love so much is found is found in Romans 8:35-37.

Romans 8:35-37 (NIV)
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
36 As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

            Nothing separates us from the love of Jesus Christ, not even our mistakes and failures. Because of this, we can be conquerors and victors in life.

            Let’s not worry about failing. The proper attitude should be, if ever you fail, determination to not remain a failure. Learn from it and use it as a stepping stone to be successful in your calling. Thomas Edison said that he had 10,000 failures before he learned the right filament for use in the light bulb. He said he didn’t call it a failure; he called it an education. “I know 10,000 things that don’t work.”


            Lastly, this parable reminds us that we must give account to God for all the opportunities He has afforded us. Continuing with the story in verse 19, we find the master returning,  giving his servants the opportunity to give an account of what they did with their talents. Prior to his return, the servants needed to bear in mind that this day would inevitably come. The master was to settle his accounts with them. When it came, both the first and second servants who did their best with their talents stood before their master with confidence and received the same commendations:

Matthew 25:21, 23
21 "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

            The judgment was fair and just. The expectation of the master was proportionate with the talents they have received. The servant who received five returned with five more talents. The second servant who received three returned with three more talents. The master did not expect the three-talent servant to return five additional talents. Their faithfulness gained them two special rewards:

  1. A.      Promotion – “I will put you in charge of many things”

            First and foremost, the master’s reward involved being given a greater trust. The truth of the matter is that the highest reward for the faithful servant is to be given greater work and responsibilities.

  1. B.      Celebration – “Come and share your master's happiness!”

            Another great reward is to be a partaker of the Lord’s joy. Truly, the Lord shares his joy to those who serve him faithfully.

            But, let’s not stop here. We need to see how the Lord condemned the third servant who hid his talent because of fear.

Matthew 25:28-30 (NIV)
28 "'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents.
29 For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.
30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

            The key idea in understanding the judgment of the unfaithful servant is found in these words - worthless servant. Failure to properly respond to the opportunities given by the Master simply shows a waste of life. Your condemnation will result to losing what you have – “Take the talent from him;” and then, being eternally judged in hell – “throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

            I hope you don’t miss the implication. True believers will be worthy servants. Those who do not have faith in Jesus Christ are the ones who are wasting their lives and opportunities.

            In closing, the bottom line is that we as children of God need to keep doing our best while the Lord is giving us the opportunities to make something out of our lives. We should never worry about failures. If we keep our eyes on the Lord who is the true judge over our accomplishments, He is the one who will give us great success. Indeed, great rewards await those who are never afraid to take risks, those who are willing to take great adventures in serving the Lord. 

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