mistakes-and-grace (1)

Love is patient and kind…”

– 1 Corinthians 13:4

The comment came in a leadership meeting. I forget the subject of the conversation, but the words stuck with me. A man in the meeting said, “Grace lets people make mistakes.”

How would I have reacted to that statement twenty years ago? I don’t know, but I know I have made countless mistakes over decades over marriage, parenting, and ministry. I am thankful for people who have extended grace to me when I have made mistakes.

Admittedly, “mistakes” is a mushy word. When the problem is not really a mistake but a sin growing from a rebellious human heart, grace gently and humbly addresses the sin and offers forgiveness and reconciliation. But when the mistake is a failure because of our weak human condition, grace realizes that everyone falters and fumbles, then provides another opportunity.

We are tempted to two extremes: perfectionism and laziness.

Perfectionism says, “You had better do everything right.”

Laziness says, “Who cares whether anything is done right?”

Neither extreme reflects the words of my friend. He was saying, “None of us are perfect. Our hearts and hands fail. When you are uptight and unkind about it, you miss grace. You forget that Jesus forgives sins and tolerates foibles. Grace creates a space for people to try, stumble, then try again.”

Do I create that space in the places of my life?

Do I allow my children to fail and help them learn from their mistakes?

Do I permit my employees to be less than perfect?

Do I chuckle and help the woman who drops the bag of rice on my foot at the store?

Do I give my wife freedom to be weary and a bit scatterbrained?

Am I patient and kind with the friend who forgets our meeting…again?

What about you? Does God’s grace free you to let people make mistakes?

Father, thank you for your patience and kindness to your creatures.

May we reflect your heart in the way we love others.

Pastor Tom Stein
Tom Stein is the Associate Pastor at Chapel Presbyterian Church in Brighton Township. He is also an instructor in the Adult Degree Program at Geneva College. He and his wife Beth Ann have three children. He blogs biblical meditations at tomsteinjr.blogspot.com.