Second Chances

There is something you need to know that will probably shock and horrify you… nobody is perfect. I know, it is hard to believe but it is the truth. We all make mistakes and commit sins and there is not a single one of us who has woven their way through this life without falling into the trappings and mistakes of sin and ignorance. Unfortunately, there are also people who believe that once a mistake has been made one is useless, hopeless, or stupid. Such individuals carry the mentality that, as soon as you fall short of expectations, they want nothing more to do with you.

However, the Bible teaches very clearly the principle of second chances. Seeing that none of us are perfect (Rom. 3:23), if God was not a God of second chances there would be no individual with a possibility for salvation. Yet the Scriptures are adamant about the desire of God for all men to be saved when it is recorded: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). It is God’s fervent desire that all men make use of the second chance available to them to receive the blessings of salvation.

Even beyond the evidence of God and salvation, the evidence of Christ and his disciples is of great value. Jesus had many disciples, but 12 of them were specifically called to follow him and learn from him over the three and a half years of his ministry (Mat. 10:2-4). These were flawed, untrained young men when it came to the principles and practices in which Jesus was instructing them. Imagine what would have happened if Jesus had given up on Peter the first time he answered impetuously, or if he had cast out the disciples the first time they responded incorrectly to a sick individual or a child as they did on numerous occasions. Yet the Lord, with patience and teaching, continued to train and prepare them for the services they would render the kingdom after his ascension.

But what about when someone betrays the trust you placed in them? A prime example from Scripture is that of John Mark. Paul took the young nephew of Barnabas on his first missionary journey, until John Mark left the company in Pamphylia and returned to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). We are not given the exact reason for his quitting the mission and going home, but whatever it was Paul did not deem it sufficient. Therefore, when the second missionary journey was to commence, Paul refused to take John Mark because he did not feel he could trust him (Acts 15:37-38). Nevertheless, Barnabas was adamant about giving the young man another chance and took him as his companion to Cyprus while Paul took Silas and went on his journey (Acts 15:40-41). Barnabas’ actions were well founded as the young man would later pen one of the four gospel accounts (The Book of Mark) and would be described as follows a few years later by Paul in a letter to Timothy: “Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry” (2 Tim. 4:11).

We all make mistakes and commit sins. There will be times where we all need forgiveness, prayers, and sometimes the proverbial swift kick in the pants. However, let us be cautious not to throw away the value of an individual or the influence we can have in their lives because of a mistake. It may be that the time will come that the individual has repeatedly proven to be untrustworthy, unwilling to make the proper changes in life, and could not care less about the consequences of one’s actions; but let us strive to never make that an assumption that is the first response to the mistakes or sins of another. However, it could also be that the offender is a young Christian who commits a transgression out of ignorance, it may be an individual dealing with great emotional stress that does something in a moment of weakness that is out of character and instantly regretted, or it may be an individual that simply succumbed to temptation in an area of weakness.

The offender needs to be confronted with the issue and taught the proper response and action by means of Scripture. Such should be done with the desire that, as time continues, that one may be seen in the same light as Mark, the apostles, and the redeemed: one who bears fruit for the cause of Christ being given a second chance. Let us be known as those who are willing to give second chances, and let us ever thank God that he is willing to do so for us.

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