What to do After You’ve Messed Up


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. The Bible says “all 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 turn away from the faith, while others gather their bearings and allow Christ to help them grow stronger.

The important factor is how we recover when we fall.

There are some valuable lessons to be learned from Peter’s mistake. Take a look a Jesus’ words to him in Luke 22:31-32.

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

And yet Peter’s reply to this statement is, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you.”

But Jesus said, “Peter, let me tell you something. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” (Luke 22:33-34)

Peter’s story is personal. It’s real. It’s me and it’s you. It’s us. And this is what makes it so personal. With the same mouth Peter uses to proclaim Jesus as the Christ and the long-awaited Messiah—Peter uses to deny Him.

We are guilty of the same thing. Maybe not in the same way as Peter, yet we all deny the Lord in our own way.

Jesus knew before his crucifixion that Peter was going to make a colossal mistake— not just once, but three times. He gave Peter a directive, “And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” The Greek word here is epistrepho, meaning “to turn to.” It can mean “turn around, go back,” but is often used metaphorically 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.

After Peter’s denial and the death of Jesus, something died inside of him too. So Peter returns to his old ways. He goes back to fishing. To what he knows and trusts. His failures still loom over him. The denial of Jesus clings to him. He can’t shake the thought of what he did.

Can you blame him? Isn’t that how we behave when we have messed up?

But then. . .

A voice calls out to them from shore. “Friends, have you caught any fish? Throw your net on the other side and you will find some.”

The disciple John said, “It’s the Lord!”

That’s all Peter needed to hear. He jumped in the water and headed for the shore. Once he and the other disciples arrived, Jesus was there.

They all ate breakfast together and then Jesus turns to Peter and asks him, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”

Peter responds, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” (hurt, frustrated) “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Peter needed Jesus to restore him, to forgive him, to make him new again…, and again…, and again.

So do we.

Did you see it? Jesus tenderly reaches out to the one who made the biggest screw up of his life.

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 acceptance and forgiveness.

  • Turn it around by strengthening other believers.

If Peter was to grow and become the “rock” who Jesus had called him to be, Jesus had to re-commision him—to call him out again. When Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, Peter’s response helped to strengthen him to return to the ministry he was called to.

I don’t know where you are at spiritually today. But there are a few things do I know: we all make mistakes and the devil would love to keep us feeling condemned by them.

That is not the way of Christ.

Just as with Peter, Jesus asks a question, “Do you love me?”

Then don’t wallow. Don’t stuff it. Don’t try to do things on your own. Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. Don’t return to your old life.

All you need to do is TURN.

Our past mistakes will not be used to strengthen others until we have experienced God’s healing and restoration for ourselves. Will you allow Him to do that for you?

Is there an experience from your past that God wants you to use to strengthen others? 

Or perhaps you need to apply the lessons that Jesus showed us through Peter’s mistake and TURN.

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13 thoughts on “What to do After You’ve Messed Up”

  1. Beckie — this was about me — lol.
    I can relate to this – I have messed up a few times. But I am grateful God forgives me as long as I lean on Him and learn from mistakes – that is the key. Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Del. It’s about me too. I’m forever grateful for our merciful God! I spent too much time feeling condemned when all I needed to do was “turn” to Jesus and allow Him to work even in and through my weakness.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Beckie
    Thank you for your post of the 27th November, about Peter and turning and not staying condemned.
    I had an interesting experience in April this year, I had a stroke, I’m 61 now. I was on a day trip with my 18 year old daughter and her friend in London, walikg down the street. Then I was collapsed on the floor and then I was in hospital.

    The part of the brain which controls balance and eye movement had been destroyed by the stroke.
    Friends and facebook friends around the world prayed for my recovery, three days later I walked out of the hospital unaided. The consultant was amazed at my recovery.

    I had been writing a book of poems based on the Psalms and was worried I wouldn’t be able to write again. I gave it to The Lord. I was able to finish the book, it is almost ready to publish. I have been held back by doubt. Your post has encouraged me and shown me the error of my ways. Thank you so much.


    1. Bram, what a remarkable story of recovery! Thank you for sharing it here to encourage others. I must admit, I am writing to myself as the Holy Spirit crafts these posts. I know that none of us are exempt from being drawn into sin. Our only hope is to stay close to the Lord Jesus daily.

      I am so pleased that the Lord used this post to encourage you. It is not surprising to me that you experienced doubt and discouragement as the Devil does whatever he can to keep us silent. Praise God that you are moving forward!

      Congratulations on the completion of your book. Do you have a publisher or are you self-publishing? Please keep me posted.
      Blessings to you and yours!


  3. Beckie, I have always related well to Peter as he is absolutely the essence of our human brokenness. Yes, he messes up just like we all do, but he shows, in his reaction to Jesus that you’ve showcased here, that we can return to the Lord, be forgiven and healed, and move on in our Christian walk.
    Thank you for this inspiration today!


  4. Another very relevant piece, Beckie–and very well done, as usual. I think we’ve fostered an atmosphere in our churches that promotes the pretentious notion sin is something that happens “out there” and (as you so appropriately pointed out) that is relegated to those pre-conversion days. Thanks again for your courageous work–great to know you’re giving the truth a loud voice in a difficult place.


    1. Ron, I wrote this out my own first-hand knowledge of how the enemy capitalizes on the notion that “good” Christians don’t mess up. I spent too much time feeling condemned and useless. What a lie.
      The fact is, none of us are exempt from falling short—even the godly. This doesn’t mean we should just throw our arms up in defeat and do whatever we please. Of course not! It only goes to show our need for complete surrender to Christ on a daily basis. Oh, and to be sober and alert, wearing our armor at all times (Ephesians 6:10-18).
      Thanks for taking the time to comment, my friend.
      Blessings to you and yours!


  5. Thank You for this timely post. I woke up with doubt this morning, my husband’s brother just passed away. And left him house, property everything. We have moved from one state to another in these last few months. Is this a blessing? I ask myself. Before today yes. Now doubt has entered. Because we are on fixed incomes. We have tax’s we didn’t have before. And now I have doubts (or did). Since reading this post has restored my faith and to believe Jesus will provide for us. Thank You Becky.


    1. Redfoxy, your comment made my day. Thanks for taking the time to tell me how God used this post to encourage you and point you toward His loving care for those He loves and provides for. By the way, I am so sorry for your loss. Praying for God’s comfort over you and your husband.
      Blessings in this new season!


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