Ever Make a Mistake?

For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin. – Ecclesiastes 7:20. 

The Good News Translation puts Ecclesiastes 7:20 in this way: There is no one on earth who does what is right all the time and never makes a mistake. 

Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. – Matthew 5:23-24. 

In Anna, Illinois, police officers raided a suspected methamphetamine lab and secured the area. However, upon closer examination what they had found was not a meth lab; it was canisters and tubes collecting maple sap from some trees to make homemade maple syrup. The Benson family gave the officers some of their syrup, and invited their neighbors who had reported the suspected meth lab to come on over for some pancakes with maple syrup. (kfvs12.com 02.14.13; news-leader.com 02.15.13) 

The story reminds me of a glaringly similar mistake that I once made while I was a probation and parole officer. During a home visit with a new client I noticed a large plant with just part of it in view sticking up over a backyard fence. I wasn’t sure, but it looked like a marijuana plant. To make sure that the case was not thrown out for any reason I decided to obtain a search warrant. One of the detectives at the police department where I had my office drove by and took a photo of the plant that was in view. Looking at the photo it surely appeared to be marijuana. The Judge agreed, and signed the warrant. We raided my client’s house and property taking possession of the plant. My client told me that the plant only looked like marijuana and we found nothing else of an illegal nature. Tests soon confirmed that the plant was indeed not marijuana. I apologized to my client, and continued on having greater wisdom than before. Just one more of my many mistakes! 

The spiritual fact is that we do all make mistakes in one form or another. When we have harmed our brother like I did, our response should be immediate as we seek to mend the relationship. Mending that relationship is even more important than bringing a gift to the Lord and worshiping Him. This is because when we have this wound in our hearts we are unable to worship in the way that we should. Once we have experienced reconciliation, we will be at peace with our brother, and with our God. 

When we make mistakes the example in Scripture is that we need to turn around and do the right thing. When Jonah came to his senses in the belly of the great fish, what did he do? What he did was to do what God wanted him to do at the beginning. Jonah went to Nineveh. When the prodigal son came to his senses in a far country what did he do? He went back home to his father where he should never have left. 

Some mistakes are unfixable, and reconciliation is not possible. When that is the situation, we can only do what David did in Psalm 51. After David committed adultery with Bathsheba, and had her husband killed, there was no way to undo what he had done, or make reconciliation at that point.  

David prays: 

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me (Psalm 51:1-3 NKJV). Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit (Psalm 51:10-12 NKJV).

(What do you do when you make a mistake?)

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