Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
Have you ever met anyone who has not made a mistake? A newspaper had to correct a mistake in an article: We wish to apologise for an error in the wedding story in last week’s issue. Due to a typesetter’s mistake, we said ‘the roses were punk’. What we meant to say was ‘the noses were pink’.
Double mistake. They tried to correct an error and only made it worse. General Motors in the US once had to recall 4.9 million vehicles to check for faulty carburetors and exhaust systems. The postage along cost them more than $2 million. That was a big mistake.
Reminds me of a famous playwright who met some friends after the first performance of his new play. He was very proud of his production. But the reality was, it wasn’t an excellent production. The first-night audience gave it a chilly reception. How did your play go tonight? asked one friend. Oh—the play was a great success, but the audience was a failure. Talk about shifting blame.
Mistakes Can Be Stepping Stones
I think we have to learn how to shoulder our responsibilities and to honestly face up to our mistakes when we make them. What’s the point of blaming others? If they’re handled right, mistakes can be stepping stones to something better in life.
Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players in NBA history, once said as he reflected on his success, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life”. Michael Jordan was learning from his mistakes.
There’s nothing wrong or bad in making a mistake through lack of knowledge or experience. That’s normal. It’s how we learn. It’s always easy to see other people’s mistakes, even if we’re confused about our own. The worst of all mistakes is to be unable to see our own mistakes. Why is it that some people think that a mistake is fatal? It’s almost like, if you fail a test, you’re a failure. If you make a mistake, then you are a mistake. That is not correct.
We All Make Mistakes
In the Bible we read in James 3:2 (ISV), “For all of us make many mistakes. If someone does not make any mistakes when he speaks, he is perfect and able to control his whole body.”
This was referring to the tongue and what happens when we don’t think before we speak. There have been many times when our tongue gets us into trouble. We can very easily make a mistake by what we say.
In the Old Testament, we read in Ecclesiastes 7:20 (CEV), “No one in this world always does right”.
We all mess up once in a while. I was reading about a boy who was taking his confirmation exam. And the minister asked him, What can you tell me about King Solomon? And the boy said, Well, King Solomon was the one who had a lot of pets. And the minister said, How do you know that? And the boy said, Because it says so right in the Bible. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 porcupines. Everyone in the church laughed. And the boy became very embarrassed. Because he realised he made a mistake. He meant 300 concubines.
But the truth is that we all make mistakes. We’ve all said things we wish we could take back. We’ve done things we wish we wouldn’t have done. I look at Mark 14 and see the story of Peter who said to Jesus, “Even if all the others reject you, I never will” (14:29). And Jesus said, ‘This very night before a rooster crows twice, you will say three times that you don’t know me’. But Peter was so sure of himself he said, “Even if I have to die with you, I’ll never say that I don’t know you. All the others said the same thing”. (verse 31). Six hours later it was a very different story. He swore and began to curse when a girl recognised him as a Jesus follower. “I don’t even know the man you’re talking about”. What a big mistake.
Learn and Seek Forgiveness
One way is to simply say, We all make mistakes and use that as an excuse. The Bible says that we all make mistakes—so I am not perfect, I make mistakes. But if we don’t take responsibility for the mistakes, we’re just using an excuse.
A better way is to say, Yes, I made a mistake, but I am going to learn from it and grow because of it. Making mistakes is as natural as breathing. We are not perfect. We are human. We will make mistakes in life. We can learn from them and work to never repeat them. That is growth.
Unfortunately, many times our mistakes are harmful to others. We say things that are harmful and we do things that are harmful. Sometimes we feel that they are so grievous that we will never recover. It is then that we can, thankfully, seek forgiveness.
We have never made a mistake in life that is beyond the forgiveness of God.
The Bible says in 1 John 1:9 (ESV), “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
We have never made a mistake in life that is beyond the forgiveness of God. And that is the good news of the Christian faith. In Jesus, we can claim forgiveness.