The Truth of Consequences

A man went to see his doctor in an acute state of anxiety. “Doctor,” he said, “you have to help me. I’m dying. Everywhere I touch it hurts. I touch my head and it hurts. I touch my leg and it hurts. I touch my stomach and it hurts. I touch my chest and it hurts. You have to help me, Doc, everything hurts.” The doctor gave him a complete examination. “Mr. Smith,” he said, “I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is you are not dying. The bad news is you have a broken finger.”

Sometimes we overlook the most obvious connections. Maybe at times, as in the example above, we’re not always as bright as we should be. But more often it’s because many folks have a tendency to blame someone or something else for something that went wrong rather than accept responsibility for their own actions. From weight loss pitches to financial failure fixes the message is often the same—“It’s not your fault.” But the flip side that’s not often addressed is this: the sooner I admit my problem is my fault or at least my responsibility to remedy, the further I am down the road to fixing it. The Bible says, “Whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). Moses warned the tribes of Reuben and Gad that if they went back on their promise to help their brethren, “behold, you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). Ezekiel prophesied to unfaithful and adulterous Jerusalem, “Therefore thus says the Lord God: Because you have forgotten me and cast me behind your back, you yourself must bear the consequences of your lewdness and whoring” (Ezekiel 23:35). David wrote, “Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made. His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends” (Psalm 7:14-16). But with our justice system as it is he or she may be able to get a good lawyer or a sympathetic jury or a lenient  judge or maybe all three and before you know it there are little or no consequences for crimes even as great as murder. That is, no consequences in this life. If no one else knows our guilt, God does. If no one else sees a flimsy excuse for what it is, God does. Paul uses this simple rule of cause and effect when he instructs, “Rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval” (Romans 13:3). This principal applies to every area of our lives. There are consequences to our action and inaction. That’s the truth. When we deny that or when we as a society disconnect unpleasant consequences from wrong behavior, everyone suffers for it.

But Jesus also makes clear that, not only do bad actions have bad consequences, conversely good actions have good consequences. He said, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:37-38).

Since the time of Adam & Eve God has been teaching humanity that there are consequences for both good and bad choices. If we’ll get in the habit of seeing the connection between what we do or say and what follows, we will hurt and be hurt less.

 

Brad Fry

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Published in: on April 16, 2013 at 4:30 pm  Comments (2)  
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