Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, then you shall appoint cities to be cities of refuge for you, that the manslayer who kills any person accidentally may flee there. They shall be cities of refuge for you from the avenger, that the manslayer may not die until he stands before the congregation in judgment.”’
Mistakes happen to everyone—and sometimes they’re tragic. When the space shuttle Challenger lifted into the sky on a chilly Tuesday morning, January 28, 1986, and then exploded 73 seconds into its flight, everyone realized a terrible mistake had been made. Because of the cold weather, the O-ring seals on the booster rockets malfunctioned.
Burning rocket propellant ignited an explosion in which seven people lost their lives. While not all mistakes are this disastrous, they still often leave us wondering what to do.
In God’s plan for the nation of Israel, He established six cities as places of refuge. These were located strategically throughout the land, so that those who committed a crime accidentally, even if it involved killing someone, could flee there for safety. While in the confines of that city, he was safe from anyone who sought vengeance because of his mistake.
Mistakes—things done by accident with no intent to cause harm—demand our compassion. They may make us sad; they may even make us angry because of the lack of good judgment shown. But in the midst of it all, we must realize that humans are fallible creatures.
If you are the victim of a mistake, even a serious one, God calls you to forgiveness and compassion. The apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Col. 3:12-13).
In His compassion, Christ offers us a refuge from our sins; for our part, we must offer others a refuge from theirs.
LACK OF FORGIVENESS FOR THOSE WHO MAKE MISTAKES IS A MISTAKE ITSELF.