We’ve all heard about the consequences of a mistake, the “domino effect,” of a wrong choice made long ago. Bear with me as I make this illustration.
I build Hot Rod Cars and Custom Cars. I sometimes purchase cars that others have built and repair them before I put them up for re-sale. Often the problems are far deeper than they might originally appear to be. A bad decision made very early in the building of a car can cause multiple problems as the car comes together.
I saw one such car recently. It looked great with its nice paint scheme, good interior and expensive wheels. It even drove well—accelerating, stopping and cornering admirably. But when I raised the hood, I saw a serious problem that would plague the car from now on, unless…………..
Let me explain. The car had been modified with a larger engine and transmission. The engine and transmission combination was just fine; their location in the engine bay was not.
The engine had been mounted too low and too far forward in the engine bay. Because it was mounted so low, the oil pan was the first thing to hit the pavement on even a slight bump. That can be fatal to an engine. Because it was mounted so far forward, the air cleaner setup not only rubbed the back of the radiator, it blocked the use of a proper fan to cool the radiator. This too can destroy an engine. Two fatal flaws were caused by one bad decision.
The fact is, there never was enough room in the engine bay for that engine and transmission combination. That is, without making the transmission tunnel, the “hump” between the front seats, slightly bigger. The only way to fix the car was to “back up” to the point of the mistake and make it right. The correction would now require major surgery… cut out the “hump” inside the car, remove the engine/trans, mount it all 3” higher and 3” farther back, then fabricate and weld in a new “hump” and engine mounts!
My point in relating this story is not to bore you with the details of Hot Rod building. It is to make an application about wrong decisions in the handling of God’s word. It is difficult, and sometimes painful, to make the corrections necessary.
Why did the car builder make the decision to install the engine/trans in the wrong location? Did he lack the knowledge or skills to do it right? Was he lazy? Was he in a hurry to get it going?
If he, at some point, realized he had made a mistake, what was his next decision? Could he admit he was wrong? No… too much pride. Maybe he could just ignore it. Or maybe he could just sell it to someone who wouldn’t recognize the problem. He sold it.
If we apply this story to our own lives, and the teaching of God’s word, I think we have all been there. Have we held on to a doctrine, a position, or a teaching that we know in our hearts is at least questionable, if not dead wrong?
Maybe a mistake in our early study influenced our later decisions on major doctrinal positions and teachings. Perhaps we even made interpretations based on what we later discovered was a bad translation of a verse. Sometimes just one or two poorly translated words can lead us in the wrong direction. Maybe we have taken some “learned brother’s” word for what a verse meant, only to find out later that he had been wrong. Have we sold Bible doctrines that we now know are just not right, to others?
Are we willing to admit a mistake? Are we willing to do the major surgery required, to go back and remove major parts of our teaching/doctrine, to rebuild our understanding of the Bible? Are we too prideful? Are we worried such a correction would cause us to lose our friends, our family, or even our job as a preacher, elder or pastor? Have we become so entrenched in the particular “doctrine of our church” that we can’t afford to admit wrong? Do we rationalize our reluctance with thoughts like, “I can do more good if I stay with what I have always taught”?
What is the cost of handling and teaching the word of God rightly? 2Tim 2:15 2Cor 4:2