Recently, in a big city the local police raided what they thought was a crack house. After searching for a few moments and finding nothing even remotely suspicious, the police realized they had the wrong house! The crack house was next door. By the time the police realized their mistake, the inhabitants of the real crack house had escaped, and the police had a lot of explaining to do.
In another town the local fire department scheduled a practice drill. Using a house they thought was scheduled for demolition, the fire department carefully set fire to it so they could practice their firefighting technique. Unfortunately, the condemned house was a block away! As you can imagine, the person who lived in the house was a little upset when he returned home to a pile of ashes.
Usually, our mistakes are a lot smaller than setting fire to the wrong house. But we all make mistakes. We can't avoid them-they're part of being human. The important thing is not whether we make mistakes, because everyone does; the important thing is how we respond when we make a mistake.
Now, sometimes our mistakes are sinful. Other times they're just mistakes. But whether our mistakes involve a wrong choice or just a poor choice, the way to respond is pretty much the same.
The first thing you can do when you make a mistake is admit it. That may seem pretty obvious, but it's surprising how many people have trouble doing that. The second part of a proper response to a mistake is to apologize to anyone your mistake hurt. (If your mistake was sinful, this would include God.) The third step is to try to correct the mistake. This isn't always possible (you can't "unburn" a house, for example), but you should do what you can to erase the effects of your mistake. Then, if your mistake was sinful, you should accept God's forgiveness and try (with his help) to do better the next time. Oh, yeah, one more thing-always remember to check (and double-check) the address of any house you intend to assault.
REFLECT: What do you think is the difference between a mistake that's sinful and a mistake that's not sinful? Are there any recent mistakes you've made that you need to admit, apologize for, and try to make amends for? How will you do it? Do you think you'll ever stop making mistakes? Do you think you can (with God's help) make fewer wrong choices? Do you think you can (with God's help) do a better job of admitting and correcting your mistakes?
PRAY: "Lord, I admit that I should (or shouldn't) have...
I apologize for my sins. Show me how to correct the things I've done wrong, and help me not to do them again."