“Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”—Genesis 4:6-7 (NLT)
What is your natural response to making a mistake?
Sometimes we try to deflect the blame onto someone else. “Yeah, I knew that was wrong, but I was only going by what so-and-so told me.”
Sometimes we try to minimize the blame so we don’t feel so bad about what we did. “Yeah, I knew that was wrong, but it could have been worse.”
Sometimes we try to compare our mistakes to others. “Yeah, I knew that was wrong, but at least I’m not as bad as that guy.”
Sometimes we try to blame our environment. “Yeah, I knew that was wrong, but I can’t help it… this place just stresses me out sometimes.”
Or our parents. “Yeah, I knew that was wrong, but I can’t help it… that was what was acceptable when I was growing up.”
Or we plead ignorance when we really did know better. “Yeah, I knew that was wrong, but I didn’t think anyone would notice.”
And when we do any or all of these things, do we really take the time to figure out what we did wrong? Why did we make that poor decision? Why did we sin?
And even if we have that information, do we take the time to apply what God is teaching us to our lives? Do we change what we do so we don’t make that same mistake next time? Or do we just continue on in futility reacting the same way over and over again?
Cain’s reaction was to refuse God’s grace, and he killed his brother in response. Instead of reacting negatively to our mistakes, we need to understand why we reacted that way and then change our thinking so we actually learn from our mistakes. Beyond that, we need to learn to respond positively to our mistakes, reaching out to those we’ve offended so we can correct those mistakes and restore our relationships with others.
The way we react to little mistakes (denial, anger, deflection, minimization, hiding) is probably the way we react to our sin. What is your natural response to making a mistake?