We have many ways to describe how easy it is to lose a game. In a tournament, we say, “one and done” meaning if you lose one game, you are eliminated from the tournament. In baseball and softball, it is “three strikes and you are out.” We often refer to second place as “the first loser.” You either win or lose. You are the champ or the chump. You win it all, or you do not win at all. We often seem to emphasize winning by focusing on not losing.
Three Strikes and You’re Out
All or nothing does not describe God’s perspective, however. In various places and ways, the Bible tells us that God knows our weaknesses and our propensity to fail in issues far more important than sports. The Bible says God knows we are only dust (Psalms 103:14). It says He is acquainted with our weakness (Hebrews 2:18). Jesus stated unequivocally that apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). In the book of Proverbs we read that “A righteous man falls seven times, but rises again” (Proverbs 24:16).
Our views on the mistakes of others tend to align more with the “three strikes and you are out” mentality. In fact, we feel generous for having given someone three strikes in the first place! We think, they had THREE opportunities to “get it right.” Yet, God says a person could be considered righteous (the winner) after failing exceedingly more than just three times! God encourages us to forgive others when they fail in regards to us, not just three times, or even seven, but “seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22).
One recurring theme in the Bible is God’s redemption for us. He takes us in our failures and uses us for His glory and good purposes. Abraham was not perfect by a long shot. Moses blew it in big ways. King David fell in significant areas of life. The disciples of Jesus were always messing up. “A righteous man falls seven times, but rises again.” God is not a “three strikes and you are out” type of God, but rather, God beckons us to,
“Get up, try again, and keep swinging”.
The truth about God is that He does not operate on a performance-based metric, but rather, a grace-based metric. We are not out after three strikes because we do not have to depend on our works, and instead, God calls us to trust in the work of the Cross. He encourages us to persevere, take one more step, to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Cor 6:12). We should, of course, try our best to not fall, but the real key to the Christian life is to not give up. We do not quit, we keep swinging. We get up and take one more step.