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Do You Let Mistakes Define You?
By Joel Osteen - Apr 19, 2024

We can all look back and see times when we let our guard down and compromised, giving in to temptation or not handling a situation the way we should have. It’s easy to be defined by one moment in life—a divorce, a business that didn’t make it, a personal failure. That negative recording reminds us of what we’ve done wrong, why we’re not going to be blessed or accomplish our dreams. The enemy is called “the accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10). He’d love to convince you to let that one mistake or one season to cause you to live condemned and guilty. But that mistake didn’t cancel God’s plan. You may have failed, but you’re not a failure. That was a moment or a season in your life; it doesn’t determine your future. Don’t let a mistake define you. If you go around wearing the negative label of “divorced,” “addict,” “failure,” or “compromiser,” you’re going to miss the fullness of what God has in store for you.

Other people may also try to define you by your mistakes. They’ll stick those labels on you, reminding you of the times you failed, compromised, didn’t measure up. Some people will remember your failures more than your victories despite all the times you succeeded, despite all the times you sacrificed for others and went the extra mile, despite all the times you honored God. When you go through one bad season, don’t be surprised if people say, “God’s not going to bless you. You gave in to the temptation. Your business failed. You’re divorced. It’s over for you.”

Don’t let people label you. They don’t determine your destiny. They can’t stop what God has ordained for your life. The only person who can stop you is you. If you let your mistakes define you, if you wear the labels people stick on you, if you believe the lies from the enemy, that will keep you from your destiny. When someone keeps bringing up your past mistakes, they may not realize it, but they’re working for the accuser. You can’t stop others from putting a negative label on you, but you can take it right off. “I’m not defined by my mistakes. I’m defined by what God says about me. I am forgiven. I am redeemed. My past mistakes are behind me, and my failures are in my yesterday.”

“God’s mercies are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23). Receive that mercy and move on. “What about that failure?” It’s in the past. “What about that mistake?” It’s covered by mercy. “What about the divorce, the compromise, the time you blew it?” That’s over and done. Life is too short to let what happened in the past keep you from the great things God has in your future. 

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