Have you seen the error of your ways? That phrase ‘error of your ways’ is so interesting. We use it, but it rarely is about us. We want other people to see the error of their ways most often. It’s human nature to love our ways. It is perfectly normal to protect our ways. It takes a lot of pressure and coaxing for us to ever really want to change our ways. Even as we grow to recognize some of the errors of our ways we want to give ourselves a pass and not change them.
I don’t know if that is how all people have always been, if that’s just how people are in modern times, or if that is simply an American tendency. But it is surely the normal behavior of the people that I know.
Jesus had a common manner in His teachings. He would often say something like, “You have heard it said…” and then He would explain a common idea or teaching. Then He would say, “but I tell you…” and He would explain what God really wanted us to do/think/feel about that issue or situation.
What was happening in those moments was Jesus explaining the error of the ways of the people. Most of the times that He used that teaching method He was 100% quoting scripture or spiritual ideas. In Matthew 5:21 Jesus quoted the commandment, “You have heard it said, do not murder, but I say if you even have hatred in your heart against your brother you are already guilty!”
So Jesus made the bar that God set even higher for our lives. He did the exact same thing with adultery, giving, and forgiveness. Jesus recognized that people had for the most part accepted God’s laws and learned to live with them. But they were adapting their lives to obey the laws without honoring them. We have a tendency to find the path of least resistance. We figure out which corners can be cut and we find loopholes that make things easier for us.
Jesus wanted our hearts to lean in the direction of pleasing God’s will as we obey the laws rather than pleasing our own will as we obey God’s law.
It’s not just the gospels. All of scripture illustrates human nature and the errors of our ways. In our lives today we hear sermons and podcasts, read books, and even sense the leading of the Holy Spirit to adjust and correct some of the errors in our ways.
With so many different churches around, so many different spiritual influences available to us, I fear that many people trying to live the Christian life are able to just change churches, start reading books from new authors and really just ignore any sense that their ways may not be the best ways.
So my point today is to encourage you to really reflect and ask yourself this question; are you willing to ask God to show you the errors of your ways? And when God is faithful to point you in the ways that you should go and grow, will you truly change?
To be a Christian is to be a follower of Jesus. That means that where He leads we must follow. And that enables Him to use us in service to others to further the work of the Kingdom of God. One truth that I understand about what God is doing in this world is that He isn’t done, and He is always creating new ways to reach others. If you are convinced that you have found the right way and nothing can make you change, what use are you to Jesus when He wants to do something new?
Jeremy Alger is the pastor of the New Cumberland Church of the Nazarene. For more information please visit