By Venansio Ahabwe
A mistake occurs when a person fails to do the right thing or as a result of one’s deliberate choice to do wrong. Whatever the case, everyone makes mistakes. Scripture says, “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). It also says, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out…” (Acts 3:19). This means that making mistakes is a normal part of life, but, it is helpful for us to face up to our mistakes. Not merely to learn from them, but also to avoid doing the same again. Stephen R. Covey says, “You can learn a lot from your mistakes when you are not busy denying them.”
Jesus Christ narrates a story of the prodigal son: a young man who obtained a share of his father’s wealth and left the home. He spent his wealth so extravagantly that he became empty-handed soon after. He faced extreme poverty and starvation and looked for a miserable job of feeding pigs. He even desired to eat what the pigs ate. This crisis knocked sense into the young man, so he decided to return home and plead for mercy, “I will… go to my father and say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned… I am not worthy to be called your son…” (Luke 15:18-19). His father was very pleased that the boy had reformed, “… this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” (Luke 15:23).
The father of all believers, Abraham obeyed God’s orders and went as far as Shechem and Bethel. In the due course, he experienced serious famine and, instead of turning to God who had brought him this far, he took a personal decision to relocate to Egypt. Very soon, Abraham made a blunder in Egypt when he lied that Sarah was not his wife but sister, which resulted into Pharaoh marrying her. As a result, “… the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abraham’s wife Sarah” (Genesis 12:17). Consequently, Pharaoh expelled Abraham and Sarah from Egypt. On return to Bethel, he rededicated himself to Yahweh: “There, Abraham called on the name of the Lord” (Genesis 13:4).
Peter, the apostle, made mistakes but, the most prominent, which is recorded in all gospels, was his denial of Jesus Christ before crucifixion. This was a very critical time in the life of Jesus Christ, who faced the greatest risk to His life: death! It was a moment when a faithful friend ought to have displayed the most intimate solidarity. Peter had even pledged that he would stand with Jesus even if he would have to die too, “Even if I have to die with you, I will not deny you” (Mark14:31). As the cock crowed, Peter realised his mistake and wept bitterly. After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Peter renewed his faith when he boldly expressed how he loved the Lord, leading Jesus to instate him as head apostle (John 21:15-17).
Thereafter, Peter became a fearless preacher (Acts 2:14-39), castigated the Jewish rulers for crucifying Jesus (Acts 3:12-17), and weathered imprisonment (Acts 12:3-19). The man who once was scared to be associated with Jesus finally did not fear to be crucified himself. St Paul, earlier called Saul, violently tortured the first Christians. He believed that every Christian deserved punishment, including death. He oversaw the killing of St. Stephen who was stoned to death, “… and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul” (Acts 7:58). He inflicted more havoc on the Church as he went to every house, “… he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison” (Acts 8:3). Saul followed those who went into hiding in Damascus but, Jesus intercepted him (Acts 9:3-9). He abandoned his evil ways and spread the gospel henceforward.
King David also made mistakes, prominent among them, the murder of Uriah so as to continue exploiting his wife Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:14-16). When Prophet Nathan condemned David for committing such a crime (2 Samuel 12:7-10), David acknowledged his mistake, “Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13). He conceded his fault. Sophocles thus writes in ‘Antigone’, “All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, and repairs the evil. The only crime is pride.”
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