October 1981

Stop, Back Up, Correct!

Robert F. Turner

It happens frequently. Some one, presiding at the Lord's Supper, prays for the participants ("to partake in a worthy manner") but fails to give thanks for the bread or fruit of the vine. (See 1 Cor. 11:23-25) Rarely is the omission noticed — more rare still is its correction. But recently we heard a man stop the process, acknowledge his error, and then pray anew, making correction. The matter was handled discreetly, with no great fuss or splutter.

And it occurred to me people may have been taught more about proper procedure by this humble correction than by several sermons on the subject. I'm not knocking preaching — just saying this presented the lesson when we could relate to the situation and were ready for the truth.

Perhaps this is the psychology back of some "sawdust trail" evangelists who admit, "I once stole turkeys, drank whiskey, etc." The people relate to this say, "he's a regular fellow," and can be drawn into the fold. Well, I do not advocate sensationalism — gimmicks or carnal tactics to catch attention. But genuine repentance and correction on our part may be the missing element in our teaching efforts.

Getting people to want the gospel is the hard part. This is done better by demonstration than by our proclamation. We prove the pudding by eating it. And the frank admission of error, followed by efforts to correct, can be a potent persuader. Our actions declare, better than our sermons, that we do not regard ourselves as the standard, but constantly strive to improve our conduct and conform to the divine standard.

Stopping, backing up, and correcting an error also says convincingly that here is a man more concerned with being right than with maintaining his pride. We have not truly given ourselves to the Lord until "His way" is our first concern.

And if there was no teaching to be done, no example to set, none to witness and profit by our example — the child of God corrects errors because he lives in His Fathers presence.