The words, “To err is human, to forgive divine,” came from the pen of English poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744), in An Essay on Criticism (1709). Pope was expressing his concern about the state of writing and journalism in his day, especially at the beginning of the 18th century. The poem is written in rhyming couplets. The choice of words at each line ending sometimes makes the reading of the 18th century English a little difficult to understand. But here is the essence of the poem:
Pope begins by saying: Even if what makes us laugh comes from ignorance, don’t let that keep us from wanting to learn. And since those who excel receive rewards, it should not keep those who do their best, from receiving proper praise. Because, just like generals get the credit for their triumphs, it’s the foot soldiers for whom crowns should be reserved.
He goes on to ask by what ends and means are humans encouraged to seek the compliments they rightfully deserve? Whatever it is, don’t let it be because of a thirst for boasting, but also don’t let criticism put an end to it. Here is his last line: “Good-Nature and Good-Sense must ever join; To err is Human; to Forgive, Divine.”
In other words, we should always be happy in doing what we do, because we’re sure we know what we’re doing and what we’re doing is right. After all, everyone makes mistakes because we’re all human. But, by not allowing those mistakes to keep us from moving on, now that’s worthy of the highest compliment. So keep this in mind: Even though we may not end up being the champion in everything we do, we should at least congratulate ourselves for giving it our very best try.
After all, did not the Apostle Paul tell young Timothy: “As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of His return.”1– Dr. Robert R Seyda
12 Timothy 4:6-8