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Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"The Ability to Be Wrong"

May 23, 2004

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If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

A few years ago the editor-in-chief of “Time” magazine gave a commencement address at New York University on a subject not taught at any American university: “The Ability to Be Wrong.” How many domestic quarrels start and continue because neither husband nor wife has the ability to be wrong? The man of the house is accused of spending too much time away from home. The wife is chided for petty jealousy. Neither will budge. The barrier between teenagers and parents often is caused by the same inability to be wrong.

In the business world the ability to be wrong is also needed. The young junior executive, fresh out of college, offers a fistful of progressive ideas, challenging the traditional operation. The experienced senior executive disdains the cocky, know-it-all newcomer. They hold each other at arm’s length, each convinced of the other’s wrong position. Political viewpoints harden in a similar fashion, giving rise to bitter controversy and a reluctance to back down. All because of the inability to be wrong.

John clearly addresses this issue, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). Not one of us has the right to say that we are always right. The husband and wife, the teenager, the young or older executive, and the politician suffer from the same malady – sin. We need to get down on our knees daily and confess our wrongs, asking for God’s forgiveness. Then, as John reminds us, “He will forgive and renew us.” God sent His Son to suffer and die for our wrongs. God declares us righteous for Jesus’ sake. Forgiven, we are free to admit our wrongs to our neighbor at home, at work, and in the community. Only God gives us the ability to be wrong. Think what a difference a good dose of that ability could make in our world today.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to admit to others when I am wrong. Amen.

(Devotions from “My Daily Devotion” by Dr. Stephen J. Carter, copyright 1988 CPH. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. For ordering information, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit

Today's Bible Readings: Psalms 9, 11    John 8:1-27

Change Their World. Change Yours. This changes everything.

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