31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
Sometimes smart people do dumb things, wise people do foolish things, and even the godly do ungodly things. Regardless of how we mess up, we share one thing in common: we all make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are truly sinful behavior. The Bible says, “Al have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Often we view this statement in regards to a non-believer in need of Christ’s salvation and forgiveness. However, even a mature Christian can blow it at times. When believers go through trials, temptations and difficulties, some lose hope and struggle with their faith, while others gather their bearings and allow Christ to help them grow stronger. The important factor is how we recover when we fall.
Jesus knew before his crucifixion that Peter was going to commit a colossal sin— not just once, but three times. He gave Peter a directive, “And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” The Greek word here for “turn back” can mean "turn around” or “go back," but it is often also used to mean "to change one's mind or course of action.” In telling Peter “when” you have turned back, Jesus is saying there is recovery. There is healing. There is restoration.
Jesus’ offer to Peter is the same to us. When we mess up, we must turn:
· Turn to God through confession.
· Turn away from sinful behavior.
· Turn to God’s forgiveness and acceptance.
· Turn to other believers and help them from what we have learned.
Our past mistakes/sins will not be used to strengthen others until we have experienced God’s healing and restoration for ourselves. What an encouragement it is to know (like Peter) that our past does not have to define us and we can move on to be greatly used by God!
Is there an experience from your past that God wants you to use to strengthen others?