“Cast out the bondwoman and her son.” Galatians 4:30 NKJV

“All mistakes are not sins, but all sin is certainly a mistake.”

My thoughts today are about “mistakes.”

Everyone makes mistakes. I have made more than my share of them, and that’s probably just as true of you. Some I never recognized as mistakes at the time. Some I probably still have not realized were mistakes. Some I wished would just go away on their own. Some I hoped no one would know about. Some I tried to make up for in other ways. Thankfully, there are those that I dealt with and from which I learned. Mistakes have a long shelf-life if you do not deal with them early and honestly.

My dearest of friends, Campbell, said, “Sin can only leave a person’s life one way, through one’s mouth, in confession of the wrong.” The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse our unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 NKJV. All mistakes are not sins – some are not willful, just from poor judgment, or inadequate knowledge or experience – but all sin certainly is a mistake. Dealing with mistakes honestly and humbly, and making them right before God and man is essential to be truly free of them.

Today’s verse, “Cast out the bondwoman and her son” (Galatians 4:30 NKJV), is a New Testament reference to Hagar and her son, Ishmael, a mistake that Abraham and Sarah made when they became impatient with God. Read Genesis 16:1-15. Sarah soon regretted her mistake, but too late to avoid or correct it. Her maidservant, Hagar, had birthed a son, Ishmael, which Sarah herself was unable to provide. Ishmael was a terrible mistake, a good idea that was never God’s idea.

Your good ideas are not always as good as you think they are at the moment. Abraham tried to convince God to accept Ishmael as the promised son and heir, but God’s plan was Isaac, not Ishmael. Genesis 15:1-6 NKJV. Don’t waste your time trying to convince God, or yourself, that your mistake isn’t such a bad idea. Read Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV.

Your “Ishmael” can be anything born of your fleshly desires, but not of God’s Spirit. The Bible contrasts, “. . repentance from dead works, and faith toward God,” when differentiating between immaturity and spiritual maturity. Hebrews 5:12-6:3 NKJV. I would describe a dead work as anything that God does not originate or does not sustain. Those God will not bless, no matter how much you ask that He will. Ishmael was a “dead work,” a bad idea that never included God.

I learned that lesson some years ago. My “Ishmael” was a car I bought simply because I could and I wanted to! Very soon, my heart told me I had made a mistake, God did not view lightly. In my decision, there was no thought of prayer, nor consideration that my financial ability was God’s provision, not my own to do with as I pleased. We are not owners of what God gives; we are stewards, and I had violated a basic principle of wise stewardship. Only when I named my mistake as my ungodly disregard and asked God’s forgiveness did I find peace of mind and heart again. It is painful to cast away what your flesh craves or creates, until your love for God is more than your love of what you want and would hold tightly to yours or others’ harm.

My prayer for you today is that you avoid every mistake you know to be one.