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To Err is Human; To Forgive Divine

(44)

Sermon shared by David Dykes

August 2003
Summary: When you hold onto the sins and shortcomings of others, it hurts you. Forgiveness can release you of that pain. To err IS human; but to forgive FEELS divine!
Denomination: Baptist
Audience: General adults
Sermon:
INTRODUCTION

In the series entitled “No, that’s NOT in the Bible” we discover some of these pseudo-scriptures actually contradict the Bible. For instance, believing the adage “God helps those who help themselves” can hinder a person from seeking God’s help. The aphorism “God won’t put more on you than you can bear” can be dangerous because it can create confusion and guilt.

Have you ever heard someone say, “The Bible says, ‘to err is human; to forgive, divine?’” No, that’s NOT in the Bible, but the statement is basically true. We are all sinners. It’s just part of our human nature. It is part of God’s divine nature to forgive, so when we forgive others, we are displaying a God-like quality. But because we are human we all err. Actually, the correct pronunciation of the word “err” rhymes with “sir.” So, we should say, “to urr is human; to forgive divine.” But if I happen to mispronounce it in this message, will you please act divinely and forgive me?”

We all experience relationship problems in which we are hurt or offended, so we’d better learn how to forgive. Even people in the church don’t always get along. Mike and I have a great relationship based on mutual love and respect, but not every preacher and music director get along as well as we do. I once heard the funny story of the minister of music who led songs disagreeing with what the pastor was saying. For instance, one Sunday the pastor preached on the importance of Christians moving out to share the gospel with others. Immediately after the message the music director led the hymn, “We Shall not be Moved.” The next week the pastor preached on the importance of everyone giving more money, and the music director followed it with the hymn “Jesus Paid it All.” The next week the pastor preached on the dangers of gossip and the song that followed was “I Love to Tell the Story.” The pastor got so frustrated that Sunday night, he threatened to resign if the music didn’t change. The music director followed that with “O, Why not Tonight?” Finally the pastor was so fed up that the next Sunday he said, “I’ve had it with this church. Jesus is leading me to leave and go to another church.” And the minister of music stood and said, “Let’s all sing ‘What a Friend We have in Jesus!’”

The first part of this adage was a common Latin proverb “errare humanum est.” In 1711, the English Poet Alexander Pope wrote an “Essay on Criticism” in which he made the statement “Good nature and good sense must ever join / To err is human; to forgive, divine.”

Since that time there have been several interesting variations on Pope’s statement. Dog lovers claim: “To err is human; to forgive canine.” Mae West was once quoted as saying, “To err is human, but it feels divine.” For anyone who works with computers today you’ll agree: “To err is human–but to really mess things up you need a computer.” Someone wisely observed, “To err is human, and to cover it up is too!”

One of the most powerful passages about forgiveness is found in Colossians 3:12-13, “Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Because of
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