2 Chronicles 7:14 – If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (NIV)
Today's verse reminds me of advice that I found years ago in a children's book on science. I've forgotten both the title and author's name, but I did preserve this quotation:
- One of the hardest things for any of us to admit is that we are wrong. It's hard because it makes us feel bad when we are wrong; and no one likes to feel bad. But scientists must learn to play the game with this rule and to overcome those bad feelings. If scientists can't, they are breaking the rule. Other scientists will get mad at them for not admitting they were wrong. So if you want to be a good scientist you must be willing to be wrong sometimes. Often you learn more when you are wrong because when you find out you're wrong, you try to figure out the right explanations.
This important rule of science is also a law of God: We have a moral obligation to be honest about ourselves and to take ownership of wrongs. This, in turn, opens the way to discovery, both in the domain of science and also in the whole domain of God. It's the way of love because our discoveries will benefit others. It's always an act of love to humble ourselves before God, to admit our sinfulness, and to seek His solution through Christ. In Him, we can discover an ever-expanding treasury of goodness.
Denial is never the way of love because it quenches potential good, whether in science or any area of life. Even the fear of being wrong is, in itself, a wrong because it hinders growth. That was one of my challenges in earlier years. I wanted to please people and avoid disapproval. I didn't consider the possibility of spiritual discoveries, or that wrongs could serve a purpose: to help me learn about God. I tried to avoid being wrong to shield myself from the unbearable experience of shame. Thankfully, God was aware of my self-protective motives. He saw my wrongful bents, and used failures to draw me to Himself. His Spirit continues to help me to accept my neediness and to discover gifts of His grace.
It was God Who, one night, gave King Solomon the words in today's verse. The previous day, Israel had experienced the spectacular dedication of the temple in Jerusalem. They were certainly not thinking about their nation someday slipping into a wrong course. But God was! And so He offered a solution long before they saw the need. It's the solution for us, too. This protects the church from the threat of self-deluded pride and spiritual stagnation.
The science book goes on to say, "In fact, being wrong is actually a good part of the game. It means you have been trying. … All great scientists are wrong many, many times in their lives."
Admitting our sinful ways is part of God's "game" — or plan — too. It's not our natural inclination, especially if we want a good image in the eyes of others. Our pride gets in the way, and we don't want our flawed-ness to be exposed. We may react defensively when we sense that our "good" image is questioned. Or we try harder to impress upon others that we are okay. If you are struggling with this bent, be encouraged. You can be sure that God is reaching out to you, inviting you to seek His face.
Prayer: Dear Lord, may we learn from the great scientists and humbly open ourselves up to Your Spirit to reveal our wrongful ways. May we eagerly seek, ask, knock, and discover new ways — Your ways — of blessing humanity. Amen.