Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 23, 1964

I Was Wrong

Robert Harkrider

We all make our share of the world's mistakes, but how hard it is to admit it. Someone has said that the three most difficult words to enunciate are, "I was wrong." Most of us struggle so desperately against admitting our mistakes. We imagine that it tears us down and is a sign of weakness. Actually, the reverse is true, for to admit that we have been wrong is a sign of bigness. It renews people's faith in us and opens the way to new beginnings.

Alexander Pope once said, "A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying in other words that he is wiser today than he was yesterday." There is no more miserable creature in all the world than the man who is, by his own ego, incapable of admitting to a mistake. A man who thinks that he is always right, regardless of the wisdom or experience of his critics, is blind and stands in danger of losing his soul.

The outstanding example of humility in the New Testament is the apostle Paul. Before his conversion to Christ, Paul zealously persecuted Christians. (Acts 8:1-4) Like many people of today who are in religious error, Paul (also called Saul) was honestly mistaken. He stated at his trial before King Agrippa, "I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth." (Acts 26:9-10) Taught the Jewish system of things, Paul believed that Christ was an imposter and His followers should be stopped. Being fully persuaded he was right, Paul made havoc of the church in good conscience: "Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day." (Acts 23:1) Regardless of the fact that he was sincere and that he believed he was pleasing God, Paul was wrong! Upon his conviction that Jesus was the Christ, Ananias told him, "And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16)

Honesty is tested when truth is presented. If the truth conflicts with our beliefs a choice must be made. Either we will choose to continue in error — too proud to admit human frailty; or we must accept the truth and make the noble admission, "I was wrong." We could be honestly mistaken, but after the truth is shown to contrast with our belief, we cannot continue in error and remain honest to God.

Pride is sometimes confused with strength. A refusal to yield our will in obedience to the gospel of Christ is not a sign of strength, but of human pride. Only the strong are able to abstain from evil, but it takes both a strong and a humble man to confess sins and obey the Lord. Paul gave up all that he had worked for in his early years. (Phil. 3:4-8) By his complete about-face, turning from Judaism to Christianity, he brought upon himself the hatred of his own people. (2 Col, 11:24-28) But he never regretted his actions, for as he approached his death Paul was able to say, "I am now ready to he offered.... there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness." 2 Tim. 4:6-8)

It is more honorable to be right than to be consistent and wrong. He is a happier man who can forego his fleshly pride to be honest with himself and with God.

— Box 376, Pinson, Alabama