opening up

opening up


Philippians 3:8-14
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on . . . (Philippians 3:12).


The Psalms are full of real, raw words of personal fear, pain, and failure. Read a few right now and consider how you’re encouraged by the honesty and transparency found in what David and others wrote.


How can you use your past failures and challenges to bless and encourage others? What kinds of failure are not helpful to share?

Recently, my wife and I had the privilege of speaking on the topic of Loving One Another at a marriage retreat. Attendees included couples of all ages—those who had been married just a year to a “golden” duo who had spent 50 years together. That couple, Joe and Arlene, blessed the younger couples as they transparently revealed some of the struggles they had experienced in their marriage. They candidly acknowledged their imperfections but also stated that they had chosen to cling to God and their vows as they went through rocky times together.

Speaking the truth, letting people see some of our “warts,” can be greatly encouraging to other believers in Jesus. Even super-apostle Paul admitted that he was no Superman! He wrote, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me” (Philippians 3:12). Paul’s relationships were also a bit rocky at times, including famous falling-out episodes with Barnabas (Acts 15:38-39) and Peter (Galatians 2:11-13).

By God’s wisdom, the Bible is full of accounts of those who knew God but still had feet of clay . . . those who were far from perfect. You and I should live our faith by being honest about our failures and struggles. And, when appropriate, we should communicate these things to help encourage and build up other believers. We can plainly state that we “have not achieved [perfection], but [we] . . . press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Philippians 3:13-14).

As we open up, we show that our confidence isn’t in our own “human effort” (Philippians 3:3) but in the righteousness of Jesus (Philippians 3:9).

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Exodus 7:15–9:7

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9 Responses to “opening up”

  1. mike says:

    What a great reminder of letting our lives be open for others to see.
    When we purpose in our hearts to “link” our lives together and share those real life experiences I truly believe others will then see the hope of Christ in us.

    • tom felten says:

      Mike, you’re right. People are longing for real relationships that allow them to be honest before God and others. Living out relationships like that presents the beauty and reality of our faith to those around us.

  2. Gene says:

    What a timely message for me, Tom, as my wife and I are attending a marriage seminar this weekend. We are praying about how to share about a tough time we went through a few years ago, but are still in the healing stage. Philippians 3:13 is a great verse in the context of healing and moving on. This is such an encouragement!

    • tom felten says:

      May God help you and your wife as you participate in the marriage seminar this weekend, Gene. It sounds like you’re on the healing path with Him. Paul’s words in verse 13 definitely encourage my heart too!

  3. mike wittmer says:

    Amen! Nobody’s marriage is perfect, but it’s our commitment to each other that counts. Thanks for the reminder that we don’t have to pretend we’re angels to enjoy a satisfying life of love.

    • tom felten says:

      Good thoughts, Mike. And that goes for our relationships with others as well. Praise God that we can forgive one another and encourage one another as we continue in this great adventure of following Jesus!

  4. GChoo says:

    Thank you for today’s devotion Tom.

    One of the reasons why i stay on with a church is, the ministers in preaching their sermons are not worried about revealing their weaknesses besides their passion about God. They have inspired and encouraged me in wanting to stay close to God’s Word. In turn, my relationship with God deepens as i understand more of His teaching and learn to share about God’s faithfulness and love for me through my own struggles in this world. As we share, we encourage others, build up relationships and also reaffirm our trust in our Sovereign God. Amen.

    • tom felten says:

      GChoo, it sounds like you have some leaders in your church who are truly modeling the biblical principles of confession of sin and carrying each other’s burdens. Very healthy! May God continue to bless you and your church family.

  5. daisymarygoldr says:

    Good post, Tom Felten! There is nothing surprising about the “golden duo’s” imperfections. The real revelation, which is the key to their lasting marriage, is: they had chosen to cling to God through the rocky times. This is exactly what makes them a perfect example for others to follow.

    There is no need to reveal warts. We know people have them. Honest revelation about struggles and failures simply builds camaraderie among like individuals. Such sharing will not help build up faith. It will cause people in the same boat to huddle inside a pit with no change, no progress, no healing and no growth.

    Also, sharing unnecessary details about the carnal workings of our flesh can never be a blessing to others. This will not only rob young believers of their innocence but will also tempt them to do wrong and R-rated works. For humans to have feet of clay is normal. To not have them is abnormal. It is not helpful, if someone honestly opens up about their struggles with murderous or adulterous thoughts; it only proves they are just like you and me.

    People need to open up about how they got up after falling down for the seventh time. This encourages others to not lose hope in the face of failure, but press on to the finish line. Jesus finished the work that God sent Him to do. Paul finished the race that was set for him. Perfection therefore means, to not give up midway in the race. In the Bible, perfection is perfect submission to do the will of God—in our marriage, ministry or jobs—in spite of our failures.

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