Written by Dr. Bill Bagents
I don’t like errors, especially the ones that I make. But I have learned to find little errors amusing.Recently I’ve seen the following in newspapers:
- “Milllions” looks funny with the third “l.”
- An article on flooding in Indonesia shouldn’t be headlined, “Floods in India.”
- The mast of “Section C” shouldn’t tell you to look for articles in “Section D” when there is no “Section D.”
I heard a sportscaster read about a player “returning back” to his former team. “Returning” takes care of “back.” I heard a friend ask of someone, “Where is he at?” “Where is he?” works just fine. It’s a bit like the cowboy who said of his hopelessly injured horse, “I shot him dead and killed him.” Twice evidently, and that’s hard to do. In my first draft of this article, I typed “fiend” rather than friend when quoting Proverbs 27:17 in the last paragraph! And I don’t even like the concept of frenemies.
Working with a university and being married to an English teacher, I’m trained to notice errors. That’s not really a problem unless I begin to enjoy noticing them. It’s even OK to help people correct errors, provided that I work on my own first (Matthew 7:1-6) and keep my attitude and motives right (Galatians 6:1-2).
It has been well said, “Only the dead make no errors.” In one sense, errors are evidence of effort. We’d rather make—and correct—errors than to let fear keep us from trying. The infamous “one talent man” of Matthew 25 didn’t fare so well.
Errors provide opportunity for the devil. He will tempt us to pride and defensiveness when others notice our mistakes. He’ll tempt us toward lies and excuses. He’ll invite us to impugn the motives of good people who try to help us improve.
Errors also provide opportunity for the Lord. He corrects/chastens everyone whom He loves (Hebrews 12:3-11). He does so “for our profit.” He does so to move us toward righteousness. And, often, He uses the people around us to point out our need to improve. It wouldn’t be wise to oppose someone who is doing the Lord’s work.
When you try to help me improve, I hope I’ll know that—by your tone and your wisdom (Proverbs 15:1). When you try to help me improve, I hope I’ll appreciate that—and say so—not just with words, but also by doing better. Isn’t that the point of Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend”? Friends help friends improve. It’s spiritually and relationally unwise and off-putting to be difficult to correct (Proverbs 12:15, 15:12, and 17:10). May the Lord bless us to remember that we all need all the help that the Lord sends.