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Thursday, April 16, 2009

"Error! Error!"

Errors in print can be embarrassing. Our newspaper published an obituary that listed the deceased person’s birth as Aug. 28, 2009 and her death as April 10, 2009. The obituary described her as “a longtime Colorado Springs resident.” Will Rogers was right, we can’t believe everything we read in the paper.

In the 1970s a publisher I worked for printed 10,000 books stating that “Meshech is Hebrew for typesetter omission.” The error crept into the books because a proofreader had flagged a typesetter omission after the words “Hebrew for” by writing “typesetter omission” on the galley. The typesetter was supposed to correct the error by inserting what he had failed to see in the manuscript, namely “Moscow.” The sentence should have read: “Meshech is Hebrew for Moscow.” (See Ezekiel 39:1.)

That error was costly. The printer had to throw away 10,000 books. Eat the cost, and start over.

Another time, a memory verse in an adult Sunday school manual suffered a typesetting error that eluded the proofreaders. Instead of stating, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain,” it read, “Now godliness with contentment is great pain.” (See 1 Timothy 6:6.)

Writers, proofreaders, and editors cringe when errors occur in print. The damage is done and cannot be corrected until the next revision.

My wife Gloria is usually the first person to catch an error in my blog. She sounds an alert from her computer desk, “Error! Error!” I don’t welcome the alert, but it helps to keep me humble. Fortunately, I can correct errors promptly.

Have you noticed a growing tendency to call sin an error or a mistake? Those designations are far too gentle. Sin is an offense, an evil assault on God’s will for us. It is rebellion, crookedness, and wickedness. But God can forgive our sin and cast it far from His sight. The prophet Micah declared: “Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because he delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:18, 19). The apostle John wrote: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

We will never be free from sin until we reach Heaven, but while we live on earth we are never free to sin. Let’s abhor sin, and endeavor to obey God.

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