What To Do When You’re Wrong

Do you like being wrong?  I bet the answer is an emphatic “No!”  I don’t know anyone that likes to be wrong.

We like to think we have it together.  We like to think that our personal beliefs are always right and we never stray from the path of right.  We like to think that we have valid reasons that we do the things we do.  We think we have thought through those beliefs over years or, perhaps, decades and throughout that time, we have weeded out all the wrong things to the point that only right remains.

Now, I’m not saying that we don’t sin, sometimes we still do.  But, those sins are typically in the heat of the moment.  We apologize and we move on.  What I’m talking about is different.  I’m talking about being wrong in a base belief that we have held for some time.  For instance, when an atheist finds himself being challenged in that belief.  Or when a evolutionist find himself being challenged in that belief.

What do they do?  What do we wish them to do?  I think as Christians, we would hope and pray that they would take an open and honest look at that challenge.  That they would, at the very least, consider the fact that they might be wrong.  My question is “Do we do the same thing when we are challenged about some belief that we hold?”

I have been challenged on my belief in God and also in regards to evolution.  I have considered that I might be wrong.  I have gathered evidence.  I have looked at it with an open mind.  And, ultimately, I have proven to myself that God exists and that He created the world in six 24-hour days.

But, it’s not atheism or evolution that I really want to talk about.  Those are just examples to try to demonstrate how we need to consider that we might be wrong about our beliefs.

In 2 Samuel 11, we see that David had fallen in love with the wife of another.  So, David commanded that her husband, Uriah, be put on the front lines of the battle.  When Uriah was killed, a messenger came to David and told him the news.  David’s reply was:

David said to the messenger, “Thus shall you say to Joab, ‘Do not let this matter displease you, for the sword devours now one and now another. Strengthen your attack against the city and overthrow it.’ And encourage him.”  (2 Samuel 11:25 ESV)

Now, I’m pretty sure that David convinced himself of this.  He was no stranger to war and I’m sure he had lost men before.  His belief was that losing men happened sometimes and that, as King, sometime he made a decision that caused people to die.  I’m also convinced that David was able to convince himself that it was nothing personal.  Just something that had to be done.

We do that sometimes as well.  We may justify some sin to ourselves by using our own reasoning.  Here are some examples:

  1. Being rude to someone we don’t know reasoning that we will never see them again.
  2. A couple that doesn’t get along because both reason that they won’t start doing their part until the other does theirs.
  3. Committing some sin in private reasoning that no one will ever know.
  4. Saying something hurtful to someone reasoning that “it’s just the way I feel” or “I’m a brutally honest person.”
  5. Deciding not to do any church work reasoning that “it’s someone else’s job” or “I’ve done that before, it’s someone else’s turn.”
  6. Deciding not to forgive someone reasoning “they haven’t asked for my forgiveness.”

In all of these cases, we justify our bad behavior by avoiding responsibility.  It’s someone else’s fault / problem.  Is that what David did when he was confronted with his sin?

And the LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”
Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’” David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.  (2 Samuel 12:1-13 ESV)

When David was confronted by Nathan with his sin, he immediately recognized his situation.  All he had to say was “I have sinned against the LORD.”  Do we do that or do we try to continue justifying our sin?  Do we become contrite as did David or do we continue in defiance?

David could have gotten angry at Nathan here.  He could have thought, “Who do you think you are?” or “Why are you trying to make trouble for me?” or “You aren’t worth my time!”  But David did none of those things.  David performed the three R’s.  No, not reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic.

  1. Recognized – David recognized that he had been wrong and that Nathan was right.
  2. Responsibility – David took responsibility that the sin was his.  David didn’t say “Uriah caused me to sin against the LORD” or “The devil made me sin against the LORD.” David said “I have sinned against the LORD.”  He took responsibility for his own sin.
  3. Repentance – David repented of the sin he had committed.

Even though David had committed grievous sin, even though he had murdered, even though he was an adulterer, God later called him a “man after My own heart, who will do all My will.”  Was it God’s will that David murder Uriah?  No, certainly not.  It was, however, God’s will that David repent of sin once he had committed it.

We need to take a lesson from David.  Is there someone that you have treated poorly?  Is there work that God would have you do that you have neglected?  Is there sin that you have committed or are still committing?

Be like David.  Make those things right.

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