One of the proverbs says that “a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again” (Proverbs 24.16).

Seven is used in Scripture to convey completeness. So a just man (or woman, of course) might fall completely but still manage to get up again. Then again, it can mean that he or she falls on numerous occasions and still gets up. They pick themselves up and carry on.

That’s a positive faith in action. Not falling down and just lying there thinking “What’s the point of getting up again, I’ve failed completely, or I’ve failed far too often. I might as well give up altogether.”

You might argue, though, that this proverb is about a just person (or a righteous person, as it’s more often translated), and so it can’t apply to you. When you’ve failed badly or continuously you hardly think of yourself as righteous!

But you’d be missing the point here.

Because the just person in the proverb is someone who has fallen completely or seemingly far too often. And a good part of what makes him or her righteous is that they do pick themselves up and carry on. That’s what the proverb shows us. They are judged not harshly for their failure but mercifully for their positive faith in trusting God’s grace and picking themselves up.

That should encourage us all.