Summary: Five areas of mistakes that we commonly make and the answer for how to deal with them according to Psalm 31.
Hanging in There Through Mistakes
One of the strangest phenomena of our time is that of the bumper sticker. It tells you so much about so many different people. It communicates a message. I have been a little wary of Christians who wear their mottos or their slogans or their philosophies on a bumper sticker. When you choose to do that, you have to live up to what you are suggesting you believe.
“Honk if you love Jesus!” I bet you haven’t seen that one lately. A fellow I worked for years ago saw one of those on the back of a car. He was sitting behind the car at a traffic light. So he decided to give the guy a shot on the horn. The man leaned out the window, shook his fist and yelled, “All right! ‘?#@*&%(_*’ I can’t go till the light turns green!”
I saw one in the parking lot at Walmart that said, “Keep honking, I’m reloading.” That made me nervous. How about the one that says, “Follow me to XYZ Church.” Follow me to Shady Shores Baptist Church and then we drive like crazy. A real good testimony. “Christians are not perfect, just forgiven.” That is probably one of the better ones.
“Christians are not perfect, just forgiven.” Have you ever seen a perfect person? That question was asked of an audience once and there was no response. Finally, one man stood up and said, “I haven’t seen one but I have heard of one.” “Tell us about it, sir.” “Well, I have heard that my wife’s first husband was perfect.”
This evening we want to look at the subject: Hanging in There Through Mistakes.
We Christians suffer from a common ailment; making honest mistakes. I am not talking about intentional, willful, sin. Honest mistakes can lead into sin.
Webster says: To make a mistake means to choose wrongly, to make a wrong judgment. Webster amplified this in a second definition: a wrong attitude, a wrong action or statement proceeding from faulty judgment, inadequate knowledge or intention.
Remember we are not talking about direct rebellion. We are also not talking about demonic deception. We are talking about honest to goodness mistakes. And no one is immune. But, simple mistakes, as I hope we will see this evening, can often lead to some tragic consequences and sinful activity.
I believe there are five categories of mistakes illustrated in the Bible which I want us to consider. You may want to take a pencil and write these down because in all likelihood, your mistakes and my mistakes fall into one of these categories. All of them are from the Bible.
1. Panic Prompted Mistakes
These are mistakes we make out of fear or from being in a hurry or as a result of worry.
We panic and make a wrong decision. Look at the book of Genesis 12:10. We will be looking at several passages so you want to keep your Bible handy. Genesis 12:10: “Now there was a famine in the land; so Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land.”
Immediately before this passage you read that God had made some promises to Abraham. Abraham came to Bethel, a special place where he met God. As he communicated with God, God made some vital promises to him:
• From you will spring many nations.
• You will possess this land.
• I am going to bless you.
You hang with me Abram and I will meet your need. He is still hearing the echo of God’s words when we come to verse 10. “Now there was a famine in the land...” And note the mistake—“...Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there.”
Abram was in a hurry. He panicked. God had made some promises to him but he quickly forgot. In his own fear and in his own hurry he panicked and he went down into Egypt. That was a mistake. It wasn’t God’s plan for him.
Now often following a mistake, there is another mistake. And often it is a sin. Look at verses 11-12. “And it came about when he came near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, ‘See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman; and it will come about when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, “This is his wife;” and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say that you are my sister ...” He concocts a lie with Sarai to mislead the Egyptians. One mistake leads to another.
In the book of Numbers chapter 13 and 14 we have another mistake prompted by panic.
In this occasion we have the twelve spies going into the land of Canaan. Ten spies came back and said we can’t go into Canaan. This was the Promised Land. It had been the place God had wanted them to go. But in their fear, in their panic, they said we can’t go in because there are giants there. We are as grasshoppers. Only two of those spies came back and said, “We can go in. Let’s do what God asked us to do, let’s take the promise He has placed in our hands.”