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Pointers along the way #138

Mistakes and failure
- Jacob Ninan

"We all make many mistakes," said the apostle James (Jas.3:2).. Mistakes are usually unintentional, which we make due to a lack of understanding or an error in judgment. As imperfect human beings it is practically inevitable that we make mistakes. But if we are wise people, we will learn from our mistakes, (and also from those of others), and we try to avoid making the same mistakes again. In fact, someone who repeats his folly is called a 'fool' (Pr.26:11).

Those who have high thoughts about themselves or a perfectionist tendency find it difficult to bear with their 'mistakes'. They are 'shocked' to see that they have made a mistake, and that sends them into discouragement, gloom and depression. Their 'self-image' as a perfect person is shattered! But sensible people have recognised that they do make mistakes, and even though it is somewhat painful to acknowledge it, they do manage to bear it.

The more damaging situation is if we get overwhelmed by the recognition of our mistakes and conclude that we are a failure. This is wrong, even if we have made many mistakes. A person is considered to be a failure only when there is no chance of his ever making a comeback. The conclusion that we are a failure is false because we are presuming that we have no chance of recovery or change. We are not failures just because we have made mistakes.

Look at the example of the apostle Peter. As one who sincerely loved Jesus, he was always eager to be in the forefront doing things for Him. But being of a rather impetuous nature, he made many blunders. In the beginning it was not difficult for him to bear the dishonour of being seen as having made mistakes, and even being corrected in public. But when he denied Jesus publicly three times even after Jesus had warned him about it, he could not take it any more. He thought he was a failure as an apostle. He thought the only thing he could do was to go back to his fishing.

If Jesus was not what He was, this would have been the end of the story for Peter. Jesus had not only prayed for Peter before this happened, that Peter should not lose his faith (Lk.22:31,32), but He also went out of His way seeking after Peter. He looked at Peter after the denial, and we can imagine the compassion and tenderness that must have been there in that look, because this was what caused Peter to repent with tears (Lk.22:61,62).. Later, after Jesus had been raised from the dead, He left special instructions to inform Peter about it (Mk.16:7). Jesus also took Peter aside, and gave him an opportunity to reverse his three denials and to reconfirm his love for Jesus (Jn.21:15-17).

There is always hope with Jesus for those who turn to Him. Jesus can wipe our hearts clean from sin's stains, and set captives free. He can make up for lost time, set us on a new path, and turn failures into success stories, if we continue to trust Him (Col.1:22,23).