As parents, explaining to children that their choices have consequences, that it’s a no-brainer, can be frustrating. Why don’t they get it? Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. Every parent everywhere has uttered a similar phrase in disbelief to the 3-year-old who failed to understand that when you stick a penny up your nose, it hurts. However, as adults, we seem to forget the same truth in our own lives. Choices have consequences; rarely are we presented with the “get out of jail free” card.
From the beginning
The best example is to go all the way to the beginning. At creation, Adam and Eve were given a beautiful garden filled with everything they could possibly need. A choice was presented. Trust that God has provided, or take matters into your own hands. They chose the latter. They fell apart from the goodness of the garden, from the intimate fellowship with God and from the simplistic beauty of their own union. The world broke, and the consequences are still felt today.
The consequence of sin
Sin came into the world and created a great divide between us and God. It was a divide that only God could fix. Wanting to restore the relationship, God came down to earth as a baby named Jesus. Entering our broken world and taking on the consequences of our sins, Jesus healed the divide. His death and resurrection allowed us access to God that sin had previously broken.
Choices still have consequences
Have you ever heard the phrase “fire insurance”? It’s what some outside of the church think that we are buying into. Basically another word for grace. You and I are saved from the eternal consequence of sin, separation from God, but the choices we make today still have consequences here and now. Our “fire insurance” isn’t a free pass to live recklessly.
Poor choices not only hurt you but also those around you. A flirtation at work can grow and destroy your marriage. Unhealthy lifestyle habits can lead to an early death and family members without your provision. Bad spending habits spread out over seemingly small but habitual choices can lead to financial struggles for your spouse. Anger and harsh words can destroy a child’s self-esteem. Running a red light because you are late puts multiple people in danger. I can go on, but you get the point. Choices we make every day have a ripple effect on the world around us.
Good choices also come with consequences
Sometimes good choices, faithful choices, bring unwanted consequences as well. In the Old Testament, there is a story of a man named Daniel. Some of the other men were not fond of the favoritism the king showed him, so they devised a plan. Knowing that Daniel prayed every night, they convinced the king that anyone who was caught praying should be thrown into the lions’ den. Daniel knew the king signed off on their plan, but still he chose to pray. He chose to face the lions. God honored his faithfulness, but that did not mean Daniel did not have to experience the consequences of his choice. You can read the rest of the story in Daniel 6.
The good news is that even when you do mess up, God does not forsake you. You will have to walk through the consequences of your choices, but you won’t be walking through them alone.