Mistakes Are Not Always Bad

One of the things you can count on in life is making mistakes. Yet many of us look upon mistakes in a negative way. No doubt, mistakes can be harmful, but there are ways in which mistakes can make us better.

To begin, let’s take a look at mistakes. Some research shows that 70 percent of airplane crashes, 90 percent of car crashes, and 90 percent of work accidents are the result of human error. Why would God create something prone to making so many mistakes? Is there something positive in making mistakes? I believe there is, but let’s first look at some of the types of mistakes humans often make.

One type of mistake humans make is a context mistake. An example of this can be found in Acts 2:16-17, where Peter believed he was living in the last days. He obviously was wrong because he misinterpreted what was happening in his time with Scripture. Many others have misinterpreted prophecy on the end-times over the last century. We know this because the end has been predicted by a number of individuals and church groups, and all have obviously proved to be wrong.

Another common human mistake has to do with our vision. There are many kinds of vision errors. One kind is change blindness. Change blindness involves the failure to detect major changes to scenes we are viewing during a brief visual disruption. One famous experiment on this involved an individual on a public street being interviewed by a person involved in the experiment. A few minutes after the discussion starts, a large door is brought down the sidewalk temporarily blocking the view of the interviewer from the interviewee. When this happens the interviewer is switched out with a different person. When the door passes a new person continues to talk to the interviewee. In about 50 percent of cases the person being interviewed fails to notice they are talking to a different person.

Other examples of vision mistakes include optical illusions. Due to the form and shape of your eye you will not always view objects in the way they truly appear in our reality. There is nothing you can do to overcome this.

Another vision example involves the fact that x-ray technicians do not find tumors in x-rays about 99 percent of the time. This would be great except for the fact the technicians are making mistakes about 30 percent of the time. One of the reasons this happens is because when you view something you usually don’t see or expect to see, you have a tendency to speed up your viewing. Only when you slow down do you begin to do better. And what tends to slow us down is when we actually know we have made a mistake.

Memory bias is yet another mistake we often make. This entails sticking to prior familiar knowledge even when you have learned that knowledge was wrong. One example of this was a study conducted where students were made aware that their second answer was more often correct than their first answer when they were conducting a test. Many of us have heard to go with our first answer because that is more often correct when answering a multiple choice test. This exercise was set up in such a way that the second answer you chose was more often correct

and the examiner made you aware of it. A month later the students were asked about the previous test and they continued to think their first answers were more often correct even though they had been told that was not the case. In other words they went back to their old familiar memory that the first answer is more often correct even though that was not true in this case. I believe this is one reason it is so difficult for many people to change their religion even if they learn the truth about what the Bible teaches.

Now there are a number of other common mistakes humans make that we cannot discuss due to space for this article. So why would God allow our brains to lead us into these common mistakes? Well, believe it or not, we learn from our mistakes. Mistakes often leave an emotional charge with us and that helps us remember to not make that same error again. I can remember not being prepared to teach a class and being embarrassed by a student who knew some of the material better than me. This led me to be better prepared for future classes I would teach so I would not have that bad feeling again. Mistakes also help us forgive others because we realize everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes also help you know what does not work. Some say that Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times in trying to make the light bulb before he finally figured it out. All of those mistakes helped lead him to the right way.

When we think of mistakes in the spiritual realm we probably think about sin. One major thing we learn from our sins is to be humble. If you are a baptized believer when you sin you are humbled by the fact you sin. This humbling brings us into a closer relationship with God. Notice in both Matthew 18:4 and Matthew 23:12 God expresses the importance of having humility. Many other scriptures point out the importance of humility in our relationship with God (Proverbs 15:33; 22:4; 16:18-19). Finally, 1 Corinthians 1:27-31 tells us that humility is so important because it helps us realize we need to completely rely on God rather than our own devices. Learn to eat humble pie on a regular basis so you can stay close to God.