When I was the medical director of my former laboratory, our management wrestled with the common problem of data entry errors. We instituted the familiar strategy of double checking the entries. While this resulted in an initial decrease in the error rate, it eventually leveled off at still unacceptably high levels. Several years later at another laboratory, I instituted a system of triple checking. After all, if two sets of eyes are good, wouldn’t a third set be better? I was confident that I could improve upon my former laboratory’s oversight. I was chagrined to find the same results that happened before. Why was this happening?
Industrial psychologists have examined the process and, not surprisingly, have concluded that adding a third or even greater number of checkers will not statistically diminish the error rates. There are many reasons but a relevant one for this discussion is the inherent biases of the checkers. They assume that since the case has already been checked at least once or if the individual who initially entered the data was reliable, they may gloss over the review instead of rendering a compulsive search for errors as if they were the only ones doing the check. However, at the heart of the issue is the person doing the initial review. If they were diligent to check their work carefully, no other checkers would be needed.
What are the applications for my spiritual life? There are several dear brothers in the Lord who help to keep me in check, holding me accountable to God and correcting my errors. However, like my laboratory, there are always inherent biases. Because they know me so well, they may assume that when I undertake an errant action, I may not truly mean it or even overlook it. And of course, in the back of their minds, is this stern admonition of Jesus Christ.
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Matthew 7:1-5 (NKJV)
If we judge or correct another, we need to hold ourselves to the same standard and many are reluctant or even unable to do that. A perfect checker must be infallible and incorruptible, not subject to relational biases. The Bible is very clear that no man can ever perfectly fulfill this role, but who could ever fulfill this unreachable criteria?
He shall judge the world in righteousness, And He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness.
Psalms 9:8 (NKJV)
I am thankful for the wise counsel of my brothers who hold me accountable to God but I know that there are many things I have not shared with them or have disguised my actions under the pretext of a noble action. Like the checkers in my laboratories, the problem begins with me. Only God sees my true heart and intentions. Only God sees my egregious sins and errors when others see what they believe is my normal and seemingly harmless behavior. It is difficult for me to accept the Truth when God corrects me but His Holy Spirit indwells within me and convicts me of my sins leading me to confess and repent to Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.
Triple checking by God-the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.