Just recently two incidents on airlines involving conflicts between passengers and employees took place. One involved removing a passenger who did not want to give up his seat by force. He was injured in the process and the airline has suffered significant criticism and loss of value in the process in addition to the lawsuit which will follow. The other involved a passenger who was struck with a baby stroller due to an over-zealous employee taking control of a situation. Instead of making things worse, the airline quickly expressed concern for the family and upgraded them for the rest of their trip. The manner of handling the first one was a major mistake for the airline.
Mistakes happen not only in business, but in our personal lives. The Bible wisely reminds us, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” What that means is that we are all fail in one way or another. Some are as simple as dialing a wrong number while others can be a reputation stealer or even worse, life threatening. I am not equating the words sin and mistake, but suggesting all of us have fallen short in always making right decisions.
One important thing to remember about any mistakes that we make in life is they are generally not fatal. And even more importantly, they can be forgiven in Christ.
In Luke 12, Jesus told the parable about a rich man who failed in knowing what to do with the material blessings of life. He tore down his barns to build bigger ones so that all he thought about was his own pleasure and wealth. But his life was taken because of his selfishness and greed. In other words, the man’s success led to his own downfall and demise. What a terrible mistake.
There were at least three mistakes this man made. First, in planning for himself, he forgot his neighbor. With a good crop coming in, the man said, “What shall I do with my money?” “How shall I spend my money on me?” Obviously, he wasn’t thinking about anybody but himself.
Any time we think primarily about ourselves, our wants, our needs and fail to consider others, we are headed for trouble! An interesting observation was made by Solomon in Proverbs 11:24-25, “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”
“Two friends met for dinner in a restaurant. Each one requested fish and after a few minutes the waiter came back with their order. Two pieces of fish, a large one and medium-sized one, were on the same platter. One of the men proceeded to serve his friend. Placing the medium-sized piece of fish on a plate, he handed it across the table to his friend. His friend said, “Well, you certainly do have a lot of nerve!” “What’s the matter?” asked the other man. “Look at what you’ve done! You’ve given me the smaller piece of fish and you kept the big one for yourself.” The man responded, “Well, how would you have served the fish?” The angry man said, “If I were serving, I would have given you the bigger piece.” “Well,” replied the man, “I’ve got the bigger piece of fish, don’t I?”
So what’s the lesson in this silly story? Any time we want the bigger piece of anything it is because we are thinking only of ourselves! And there are lots of us who want the bigger piece of fish in every situation of life without concern for the needs of others. The Bible says, “Jesus went about doing good.” He challenges us to “bear one another’s burdens” and “to love our neighbors as ourselves.” This might be a good time to ask how we treat our neighbors. Have we made any mistakes in thinking only of our wants and desires?
Second, in considering his goods, he forgot the giver. The rich fool thought about his material goods, but not about the giver of the goods! James reminds us “Every good and perfect gift is from above…” Our vision problems are not related just to the rays of light our eyes sense, but rather, to the goodness of God.
Have you ever caught yourself complaining about your situation in life and been humbled by learning about someone else’s situation which was far worse from a worldly standpoint? It’s real easy to take our blessings for granted and complain about what we have, forgetting how good God has been to us. Some people are about as insensitive as someone who complains about his toe hurting until he looks around and sees a veteran who lost his legs fighting for his country.
In I Corinthians Paul asked a powerful question, “What are you so puffed up about? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if all you have is from God, why act as though you are so great, and as though you have accomplished something on your own?”
Charles Kingsley said, “If you want to be miserable, think much about yourself, about what you want, what you like, what respect people ought to pay you, and what people think of you.” Eugene Bertin also said it well when he wrote, “It is when we forget ourselves that we do things that are remembered.”
The third mistake the man made was that in providing for his body, he forgot his soul. His motto was “Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” All this rich fool was thinking about was the “here and now,” not the hereafter. Again consider the words of James, “Now, listen you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
James compares our lives to a mist that appears in the sky and then suddenly it is gone! Life is short! No matter how long we live on earth. Whether we acknowledge it or not, there is life after this life and it is eternal. The question is, are we making plans for the next life?
Did you hear about the man who brushed his teeth twice a day? His doctors examined him twice a year. He stuck to a diet with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits. He exercised regularly and got at least eight hours of sleep every night. This man never smoked, drank, nor lost his temper. He was all set to live to be a hundred years old. But his funeral will be held Wednesday. He is survived by eighteen specialists, four health institutes, six gyms and numerous manufacturers of health foods and antiseptics.
He made just one mistake: he forgot God!
Isn’t that man like so many other people in our world? They think about the body, enjoying the pleasures of this life, but they forget all about the fact that some day they are going to die. Then what?
We’re all going to make mistakes in life. My prayer is that we will not be guilty of the same ones which took the life and eternal soul of the rich fool spoken about by Jesus. Don’t forget your neighbor, don’t forget the giver and don’t forget you have a soul which is going to live forever in heaven or in the place called hell.