Mistakes are part of being human and everyone makes mistakes.
One of my favorite mistakes involves the printing of the King James Bible of 1631. While composing the text for the printing press, the printers omitted the word “not.” The result was several copies of the Bible with Exodus 20:14 reading “Thou shalt commit adultery.” A humorous mistake for sure!
Mistakes range from the humorous and innocent to the deadly. Mistakes can destroy one’s confidence, destroy an individual, family, community, or a nation.
There are many examples of governments making terrible mistakes that killed millions of people. Consider the example of the Khmer Rouge ruling Cambodia, and the United Nations.
Ruling Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, the Khmer Rouge practiced an extreme form of Communism, as dictated by their psychotic leader Pol Pot. Any suspected enemies were executed, including, teachers, doctors, professionals of every type and intellectuals. The Khmer Rouge also killed Ethnic Vietnamese, Ethnic Chinese, and Christians.
In 1979, the Vietnamese army invaded Cambodia to oust the Khmer Rouge and end the massacre. Pol Pot was forced into exile, and a new government was put in place in Cambodia backed by Vietnam. Shockingly, the United Nations refused to recognize this new government because it was backed by Vietnam, which had recently ended a decade-long conflict with the United States. Until 1994, the United Nations recognized the Khmer Rouge as the true government of Cambodia, despite the fact that they had killed 1.5 – 2.5 million fellow Cambodians (the movie The Killing Fields, 1984, documented these tragic years. The movie was so well received that it was nominated for seven Oscars and received three). The inhumanity of humans to each other never ends and runs from the beginning until the end of human time.
In the Holy Bible, there are many examples of people making mistakes. Some mistakes were small, some were big mistakes which had lasting results.
Consider the story of Saul – there were a few people named Saul in the Bible, but the one I am referring to is the man who would become Paul, the apostle. We first learn of Saul/Paul in the letter of Acts (the history book of the New Testament).
Saul was a merciless persecutor of Christians. Saul believed he was following the Law of Moses by persecuting Christians. According to Saul’s knowledge, beliefs, and faith, he was doing the work of God.
Saul, on his way to the city of Damascus to persecute Christians had an encounter with Jesus. In Acts chapter 9, we read of the meeting in the street between Jesus and Saul. It is here that Jesus renames Saul. Saul becomes Paul, having a new purpose in life, a new name, a new experience, Paul becomes the person God uses to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ around the Roman Empire. Amazing!
Here is the account as recorded by Luke of Paul spoke before king Agrippa, “So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death, I cast my vote against them. And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities” (Acts 26:9-11).
Saul was defending his faith, what he understood, what he knew and had the authority and blessing of Jewish religious leaders and Roman military gave a blind eye to his activities. What a mistake he made!
The prelude to mistakes usually comes cleverly disguised. At the heart of the problem is pride and arrogance.
God tells us exactly how pride works. In modern language, “First pride, then the crash – the bigger the ego, the harder the fall” (Proverbs 16:18, The Message: The Bible in contemporary English).
Arrogance is the overt display of one’s self-importance, some may say it is narcissistic, “it’s all about me!” People who are prideful or arrogant are difficult to live and work with and unfortunately, their mistakes are costly. Pride and arrogance are easily recognized in others but much more difficult to recognize in ourselves.
The Holy Bible does give us examples of others who made mistakes for us to learn from. In the coming weeks we will examine examples and principles God gives to keep us from making mistakes and later how can we overcome the consequences of our mistakes.
Remember, mistakes are part of being human and everyone makes mistakes. Are you human?