When All Else Fails… Read the Instructions! | Tomorrow's World

When All Else Fails… Read the Instructions!

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“When all else fails, read the instructions” is an expression of inestimable—yet grossly underrated—wisdom. It is a tendency of human nature to assume we know how to do something without needing to be instructed. We soon find out through failure that we do.

It is intriguing that, male or female, or young or old, there is something in our human nature that seeks to be independent and self-sufficient. We don’t like to be told what to do, which usually leads to problems or serious failures.

The saying has given rise to humorous variations, such as, “When all else fails, blame somebody else” or “When all else fails, slink away and start running.” Of course, the failure and its consequences remain. Almost always it costs time and money through additional trips, exchange or purchase of parts, or worse consequences, including life and limb—all of which could have been avoided by reading and following instructions.

I remember an illustrative example of the importance of carefully reading and following instructions. A high school class instructor placed a paper, face down, on each student’s desk. The teacher’s verbal instructions were not to begin until instructed! Then, we were told to turn our paper over and begin.

The instructions on the paper itself were simple. Step one was to carefully read all instructions before completing any tasks. Subsequent instructions were a listing of unusual if not silly tasks, such as standing and declaring aloud that you were the leader, shouting your name, or mooing like a cow. The very last instruction was to complete only step two, which was to write your name on the top of the paper.

It was humorous to see fellow students completing tasks, unaware they had failed to read and follow instructions. This illustrates a shortcoming in our human nature. We assume we know how to make our own decisions and don’t need someone else’s instructions. We can take our own path and chart our own course without being told what to do. We can do what we want, when we want, and how we want.

Often that is when we find that we needed instructions. Our uninformed actions concluded in a problem, costing time, money, grief, etc., which could have been avoided if we had simply read—and followed—instructions.

This is true, whether of ethical, moral or spiritual matters. While consequences for failing to follow physical instructions may be only losing employment or suffering unwanted financial obligations, fines, and lawsuit judgments, etc., failing to follow God’s instructions is far more consequential, resulting in a guilty conscience, sorrow of heart, damage to our reputation or our relationships, and other lifelong penalties and issues without remedy.

There are numerous biblical examples about the failure to follow instructions. In fact, a simple statement summarizing the Bible is that it demonstrates that mankind has failed to follow God’s instructions, resulting in horrendous consequences, necessitating the Creator God Himself paying the death penalty in the form of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, to save us.

Every human being, somehow and in some way, from Adam and Eve, their son Cain, those who built the tower of Babel in defiance of God’s instructions, and all down through history up to Armageddon, has failed to follow God’s instructions perfectly.

God says in Isaiah 48:17–19: “Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer…. Oh, that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river and your righteousness like the waves of the sea. Your descendants also would have been like the sand, and the offspring of your body like the grains of sand; his name would not have been cut off nor destroyed from before Me.” And Jesus said, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).

Find out what Jesus instructed. Read and follow His instructions found in your Bible. For study guides, investigate the many free resources available at Tomorrow’s World.