I found this little gem in the epistle of James (3:2a) this morning. “For all of us make many mistakes.” Sometimes I am convinced I make more mistakes than most!
I bring this up because as I was sending out yesterday’s Sanitizer, I spotted mistakes. You should know that there are seven groupings of email addresses, so I need to paste the Sanitizer seven times. There are seven groups because if all the emails were in just one group, the mailings would be rejected as spam. Years ago, Melissa Skrabal helped me set this up. I have not forgotten, Melissa and am still grateful every time I email the congregation!
Anyway, I sent out the first two then saw a mistake in the text. I thought I had proofread it – twice. Guess not. I sent out one more and noticed there was a second mistake which I corrected. After one more, I found a third mistake! Those of you in the last three groups got the corrected Sanitizer.
Being human means making mistakes. God knows this. We try our best and we should, but we make mistakes. I doubt there is any person who, looking back over his or her life cannot recall something they wish they had not said or something they wish they had done. It is okay not to be perfect. Only Jesus is perfect. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.” If we were perfect, we would be unbearable!
Do you remember the story of the woman caught in adultery? Jesus was teaching in the Temple and the scribes and Pharisees brought her to Jesus asking what they should do. They reminded Jesus that the law of Moses demanded she be stoned. Jesus knelt and wrote on the ground with his finger. Then he stood and said, “Let the one among you without sin throw the first stone.” Having said this, Jesus knelt again and wrote again on the ground with his finger. One by one the woman’s accusers walked away.
What do you suppose Jesus wrote on the ground? The Venerable Bede (672 – 735) said Jesus wrote the name of each accuser and next to it wrote his sin. Some say the Jesus was showing his authority by writing on stone as God had engraved his law on tablets of stone on Mount Sinai. What do you think? I always wondered if he wrote just to slow things down and make the scribes and Pharisees wait for his answer. Some like the idea that Jesus wrote a Bible passage, such as, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love,” which would make the hollow judgmentalism of the Jewish leaders obvious to them and shame them. Maybe Jesus was hoping they would realize their own meanness and heartlessness. So he took some time to let them think. Though John does tell us they kept nagging Jesus about it. Also, we often think of Jesus writing in the dust, but I am sure that if this took place in the Temple itself, the pavement would have been spotless. That’s just my opinion. I make mistakes, remember?
Anyway, no one admitted they were sinless by casting a stone at the poor woman. The elders walked away first, then the others, till Jesus was left alone with the woman. “Where are your accusers?” Jesus asked. “Has no one condemned you?” The woman replied, “No one, sir.” The woman was standing there left alone with Jesus.
Maybe that is just the right part of this passage for us today. We are alone with Jesus. “Who condemns you?” Jesus asks. We reply, “No one, sir.” “Go and sin no more,” says the Savior. In our sheltering in place I hope we have such moments when we are close to Jesus and are healed and warmed by his love.
Anyway, back to James and making mistakes. It has been pointed out to me that in at least three Sanitizers I have written that I love being wrong. (Thanks, Warren). I guess this is sort of the fourth time. Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. (Here’s something to think about – the Old Testament says that the animal to be sacrificed must be without blemish. Interesting isn’t it? We are not without blemish so we sacrifice something without blemish.)
2 Corinthians 12:15 says but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
Lighten up on yourself. Because you are a sinner and because you make mistakes, you need a savior. God gave you one! You are forgiven and free. And let’s take James’ words to heart and try to bridle our tongues and not use them to hurt people. Words can truly lacerate others. That’s not what we want. We want to build one another up. We want to bind wounds. We want to lead people to Jesus.
Please pray with me. Gracious and loving God, pardon my sin that I may sacrifice myself to you, an offering without blemish. Help me accept your forgiveness. Help me not to flee from you in shame, but to rush to you for your powerful mercy. I ask in my Savior’s name, Jesus. Amen.