I MADE A MISTAKE!
(Article for the August 7, 2013 issue of The Seward County Independent)
By The Rev. Dr. Daniel K. Schroeder, Pastor of Mighty Fortress Ev. Lutheran Church
Oops! Uh-oh! Boo-boo! My bad! Error! Whoops! I goofed up! Blunder! Flub! Slip up! Faux Paus!
Most likely these words are very familiar to you, and you know the meanings all too well. These are but just a few synonyms for making a mistake. The reason we are so well acquainted with terms like this is because nobodyís perfect. And because it happens so often, people will get creative when it comes to finding appropriate terms to describe making a mistake.
But there are people out there who wouldnít utter any of these words even if you paid them. Although they might realize their own imperfections, they will never acknowledge it. For some reason, they see making a mistake as a sign of weakness and inferiority. So these are the people that always have to be right, even if they are dead wrong.
For example, I know of a person who very clearly made a mistake. This person immediately got very angry and blamed someone else. This caused a lot of hurt and upset. And when this person was clearly shown that the mistake was theirs, they still blamed somebody else. They refused to admit that they were the ones who made a mistake. They couldnít accept the responsibility for their actions. And so there were no apologies, no amends, and no attempt on their part to fix the situation. Being right was the most important thing to this person.
People like this can be really frustrating. Nobody is perfect; and when people act like they know everything and never make a mistake, then it becomes difficult to even be around them.
The reason people make mistakes is because we are imperfect people who live in an imperfect world. This is what happens when we are under the influence of sin. Because there is sin in the world, things will go wrong and we will make mistakes, regardless of who we are or what we think.
When God created the world, he created a perfect world. Adam and Eve were essentially living in paradise without a care in the world. So what happened?
The man and woman made the first mistake that changed the whole world. When Satan tempted the woman and she ate of the forbidden fruit, she made a decision to disobey God. And when the man ate of the forbidden fruit, he made the same bad decision. Suddenly Godís perfect world was forever ruined because man invited evil into the world.
Right away, the blame shifting started. Adam blamed Eve for his bad decision, and Eve blamed Satan the serpent for her bad decision. But that didnít do any good; each one had to bear the responsibility for their goof-up. Nobody got off the hook; and we are still living in the after-effects of the blunder and sin of our first parents.
In 1 John 1:8-10 the Apostle John gets right to the point. He writes: ďIf we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make [God] a liar, and his word is not in us.Ē
Owning up to our errors and mistakes is important, because it shows that we are being honest with ourselves. We arenít perfect, and we know that. And if we arenít honest about the way we are, then John reminds us that we are in effect calling God a liar! To deny our sinful condition as God has described is like saying God has made a mistake; and that can never be!
But God has done something about our sinful condition. God make a promise to Eve back at the beginning that he would be sending a Saviour from sin. And John reminds us that God is indeed faithful and just, and he will forgive us and cleanse us from our sinful condition.
Through faith in Jesus Christ, we have this forgiveness. Through faith, Godís promise becomes our own, and thereís no mistaking that. But we have to be honest with ourselves too. We have to see ourselves as sinners needing the forgiveness Jesus offers us because of his grace, or his undeserved love for us. Faith in Jesus Christ alone is what saves us.
When I was in college, one of my professors used to tease me a bit by telling me that he lost count of how many red pens he wore out on me. So on the last day of class for the semester, I presented him with a whole box of brand new red pens.
Weíve all experienced the red pen of a teacher or professor. Itís a subtle reminder that we all make mistakes, goofs, blunders, boo-boos, etc. Weíre not perfect. Thatís why they put erasers on pencils. But we can give thanks to Jesus our Lord because he paid the price for our sins and has given us this free gift of forgiveness. Through faith in Christ alone, our sins have been removed and our record is wiped clean.