Have you ever discovered that something you thought was right, for maybe most of your life, was in fact wrong?
Last week a friend asked me to do some of his business correspondence with our commuter and printer. After all 45 letters were completed and delivered, he called to tell me that I had to do them over - because I spelled “privilege” wrong. My first response was to grab a dictionary, where I found that “privil-a-ge” was not an alternate spelling.
Worse yet, I have spelled it with an “a” for as long as I can remember. I know, because typing it just now, with an “e”, was very awkward. Since dictionary-reading is not my habit, who knows how long it might have gone undetected had not my friend pointed it out to me.
Mis-spelling a word is not usually fatal. What bothers me is assuming that I was right, for such a long time, and not even giving a thought to whether I really was or not. (There is a verse in Proverbs that says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end of it is the way of death...”) How many other things do I do wrong, more important things, and yet I do not realize it?
Just as the dictionary is our standard for spelling, Jesus Christ is God’s standard for Christian living. Christlikeness is the target that God has for my life, and He works to change me into that likeness. But, sometimes other standards seem right, and I take off in the opposite direction, without even realizing it. Without His “divine dictionary”, I have learned that it doesn’t take much to spell my life wrong.
His standard is revealed in His Word. That Book is “quick and powerful like a two-edged sword, penetrating soul and spirit, able to judge thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” It is also “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (Heb.4:12, 2 Tim.3:16,17)
Although it shows the right way, and fills my heart with comfort and the joy of knowing the Lord’s cleansing and forgiveness, reading His sword is painful at times. It stabs false thinking, cuts into ungodly speaking, and slashes at selfish behavior. But living is a one-time shot. I can’t run my mistakes back through a commuter, make corrections, and get a reprint. It is far better to suffer the stinging rebuke and correction of God than to find out, too late, that my life was all wrong, even if it seemed right to me. I thank God that spelling error was brought to my attention.
Conforming to the dictionary standard was a good reminder that He expects and encourages high standards in all of my life, and He expects me to use His dictionary to reveal the areas where change is needed. I am also thankful that He provides, through His Word, and through the indwelling presence of His Son, whatever is needed to be all that He desires me to be.