PETER shouldn't have denied Jesus three times. Saul of Tarsus, who later took the name of Paul, was wrong when he ``made havock of the church,''1 committing its members to prison. What did these Bible figures do about their mistakes? They repented. Peter learned from his mistakes and went forward, strengthened to carry on the teachings of his Master. And Paul, when he saw the light, became a new man. His whole life and thinking were transformed. He pressed on, ``toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.''2 What do we do about our mistakes? How do we respond to them?
Many are mistakes of the tongue. ``Why did I ever say that!'' Instant regret, but the remark is already made, and how can we recall it? The Bible says: ``The tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!''3 So what do we do after we have said the wrong thing?
A few years ago I criticized the operation of an institution to someone who might well have repeated my words to the administrator, and a difficult situation could have resulted. Immediately I recognized the mistake. There was no opportunity to say anything further, but I did not drop the matter there. I took steps to correct it from a spiritual basis. I asked myself if the mistake came from the one God, whom the Bible describes as a God of truth and love. The answer was no. And because God is the one supreme cause, totally good, the mistake had no genuine, God-derived power to act as a cause and to have a wrong effect. The powerlessness of the mistake became so apparent to me that I was able to drop it with a feeling of peace. And that was the last I heard of it.
What about mistakes of judgment--for instance, a decision that results in great financial loss? Or a mishandling of a domestic situation with a family member? Do the effects of these have to endure? As we go back to the first chapter of Genesis and read that God made man in His own likeness and that everything He made is very good, we come to the conclusion that anything unlike good has never belonged to His creation.
What can we do about the situation? Listen for God's direction through prayer. He does not abandon us. Can we imagine a mistake in mathematics that can't be corrected? The rules of mathematics are always available to be applied to correct any miscalculation. How infinitely greater is the Principle of being which we term God! Looking to this Principle through prayer, realizing that God governs man totally and unerringly, we'll find the appropriate answer.
None of this means that we can simply overlook a sinful mistake. It must be faced squarely and overcome. But how much better to do so through an understanding of what God and man really are. And what about the mistakes of others? It helps to impersonalize the mistake and no longer see it as ``them'' or harp on the issue of their having made a mistake. How can we do this? Through the realization of what man really is as God's image. God's likeness is not a bungling mortal.
Christ Jesus said of his persecutors, ``Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.''4 How vital it is for us to behold the man of God's creating and mentally, if not physically, reach out a hand of support by recognizing an individual's spiritual nature.
How can we avoid future mistakes? Basically, by learning the facts of true being, reminding ourselves of them at the start of each day (and more often), and then by keeping our thoughts in line with what we know to be spiritually true-- with the reality that God truly governs man and that God's man is our true selfhood.
But how subtle are the ``little foxes,'' those little suggestions that would have us think from a material premise. In the textbook of Christian Science, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, its author, Mary Baker Eddy,5 writes, ``The great mistake of mortals is to suppose that man, God's image and likeness, is both matter and Spirit, both good and evil.''6 Dualism, which would have us thinking from two contradictory bases, has been a curse of mankind throughout history. ``Choose you this day whom ye will serve,''7 Joshua commanded. As we base our thinking and acting on the reality that there is one God and none else, we'll find that there are fewer mistakes to be corrected.
1Acts 8:3. 2Philippians 3:14. 3James 3:5. 4Luke 23:34. 5The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 6Science and Health, p. 216. 7Joshua 24:15. DAILY BIBLE VERSE The Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:6