Do We Respond to Mistakes with Compassion?

I get a big kick out of noticing something new-to-me in the Bible. And, it really makes me smile when it comes out of something I’ve heard, read, or even seen depicted countless times. This phenomenon of the “living word” (Heb. 4:12) is both fascinating and a great encouragement to keep reading and studying because you never know when something is going to take on a new light.

To begin, let’s check out this familiar story:

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” ~ Luke 15:3-7 (NIV)

The ninety-nine. It’s a story many of us are familiar with. The whole idea that Jesus would take off into the wilderness to recover that one lost sheep is something that has comforted generations of Christians who were all at some point “the one.” However, while the story of Jesus going after the sheep is fantastic, it wasn’t until now that I noticed the way He chose to bring the sheep back…

…joyfully on His shoulders.

  • Not yelling at the sheep for wandering off.
  • Not forcing the sheep to walk as penance.
  • Not mentally whipping her for being so stupid.
  • Not with sarcasm as an escort.
  • Not with harsh consequences so “maybe she’d learn her lesson.”
  • Not withdrawing His affection.

…joyfully on His shoulders.

Anne Rulo Do We Respond to Mistakes with Compassion

I don’t know how this strikes you today. One obvious application is to consider our attitude toward others who have wandered. Those for whom perhaps we’ve gone out of our way in terms of effort, energy, or resources to try to bring them back to safety. Like maybe your kid, maybe a sibling, maybe a friend, maybe…whomever.

But, in addition to applying Jesus’s example of grace and mercy for others, I want you to consider one other person as well.


Without a shadow of a doubt, I know this is being read by people who readily dole out grace and mercy to others in spades. But to yourself? That’s harder.

  • Because we get so mad at ourselves for wandering off again.
  • Or treat ourselves poorly to “make up” for yet another mistake.
  • Let our minds pile up with critical words.
  • Mock ourselves with internal sarcasm.
  • Or withdraw hope and affection because, somehow, we still think it’s our job to fix ourselves.

My dear fellow human, may this bring you freedom today. In Jesus’s own words, He told us His wandering sheep are not only valuable enough to chase after but precious enough to carry “joyfully on His shoulders.” You are no more meant to save yourself now than the first day He carried you home.

No matter what may be struggling with, I hope it is from atop His broad, capable shoulders. It’s the only way we are ever supposed to get there.

Enjoy the ride and feel His joy.

Anne writes and speaks regularly about living out authentic faith with compassion. Check out more writing in her blog or her speaking here.

Photo by Külli Kittus on Unsplash, used with permission

1 thought on “Do We Respond to Mistakes with Compassion?”

  1. Genesis 9:20-21 Our D-Group talked about Noah’s blunder and the compassion of the two other sons. Awesome example of extending grace to our family.
    Thanks, Anne!


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