Just before Judas Iscariot went to betray Jesus, he was told, “What you are going to do, do quickly” (John 13:27 ESV). Now, this was not a mistake on Judas’s part, this was a sin. He betrayed Jesus to the Sanhedrin, setting Jesus up for death on the cross. What stands out to me right now is the wording, “do quickly.” What I want to do now, is consider how Joseph encouraged his brothers regarding their sin against him, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good,” (Gen. 50:20). We can use Joseph’s statement for good, too!
A friend of mine told me about one of the practices applied at a Silicon Valley tech company. One of the work ethics stated was, “If you make a mistake, do it quickly. Mistakes happen. No one is perfect. Quickly fix it.” Meaning, try out stuff and if it your idea doesn’t work, then quickly try to fix it, rather than allow the mistake to continue and cause more disruption. I think this is a good lesson for us to understand as believers.
We must be careful to not get the ideas of sin and mistake mixed up. They are completely different words, down to a mistake being a verb and a sin being a noun! A mistake is “a blunder in the choice of”, while a sin is “an offense against religious or moral law”. This means that when your spouse forgets to take out the compost for the umpteenth time, it is not a sin. On the other hand, if your spouse makes the choice to not take out the garbage for the sole purpose of causing trouble, then we have wrongdoing, which is more in line with sin than simply a mistake. A quick reference to the Fruit of the Spirit,” love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23), will easily reveal if the action done was in a loving and righteous manner or not.
As believers, we should therefore be careful not to judge a person’s mistakes as a sin if they are truly mistakes. What we ought to do is show love and generosity towards the brother or sister in Christ (or even a non-believer). In fact, we should offer assistance if a remedy is available. Plus, we should do so quickly! Let this be a part of our Christian ethic, too!