My intentions could not have been purer—My purpose more uplifting when I quickly jotted down a favorite Scripture reference as I signed cards for two different friends in two different states. It was a birthday card for a dear Christian brother in Delaware and a word of encouragement for another minister in Virginia, and the verse I chose that particular week was Romans 15:13: “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”
You have to agree—This verse has it all going on! Abundant portion of hope, all joy, peace and faith, and to top it all—Holy Ghost power! There are so many benefits packed into this one verse that I often write it under my signature on personal correspondence. Perhaps I was in a hurry when I signed the birthday card to my friend in Delaware, or it was just one of those absent-minded goof-ups we all make when we’re busy. Anyway, instead of putting Romans 15:13, I wrote Romans 14:13.
A few days later I got a phone call from the “birthday boy,” and it was not totally unusual for him to call and thank me for the card, which he did. However, I noticed a carefulness in his tone, and after a few minutes of chit chat, he came to the point: “Sister Sharon,” he said in his calm way. “Did the Lord show you anything about me that I need to repent for?”
Totally startled by such an unexpected, serious question, I said in a puzzled tone, “No—Why do you ask?” “Well,” he responded still somewhat carefully: “The Scripture verse you wrote on your card makes me wonder what I’ve done, and I have been troubled and praying about it all week, and my wife told me I just need to call you and ask you what you mean.”
I was really stumped at this point and more than a little nervous. I asked him what Scripture I had written, and he said, “Romans 14:13.” I repeated it with a question mark in my voice. He offered to read it to me. Imagine my chagrin when I heard: “Let us not therefore judge one another anymore: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.”
“Oh my Lord!” I exclaimed. I meant to write Romans 15:13—not 14:13! He quickly flipped the page of his Bible and read it. Then we both had a good laugh! In fact, for the rest of the week, whenever I thought about it, I chuckled. The thing is, because this brother had the fruit of the Holy Spirit operating in his life, he did not get offended—even before he knew it was a mistake! He had humbled his heart to the Lord, ready to repent and correct the problem, whatever it was! I was more than impressed by his gentle and willing spirit! It is the Holy Spirit who enables us to resist presumption. Such a small mistake on my part could have caused much harm had he not been so led of the Spirit—and prayed first!
The Second Response from Virginia
Several weeks later, I received a thank you note from my friend in Virginia, who had got the right verse on my card to him! He wrote: “I want to thank you for the card you sent me. It was a blessing! You put on the bottom Romans 15:13. It blessed me the day I got it. My pastor asked me to teach for 3 Wednesdays, and I decided to use Romans 15:13 as my introductory scripture verse to a series on Ministering in the Power of the Holy Spirit. Instead of making a brief comment, I took off with a ten-minute sermon on it…. The pastor and I think the Lord will use it for renewal and revival in our church. Tonight will be week 6 and continuing.”
Of course, I was thrilled by this testimony of how God used one small Scripture reference to spark a renewal in a church that I’ve never even been to! I’ve learned from this experience, that the voice of the Holy Spirit is fool-proof even when I’m not! (I’ve also learned to re-check my Scripture references!)