Everyone has experienced them. Everyone has been threatened with them. Everyone threatens others with them. They can be constructive or destructive. No one wants bad ones. Good ones can be used as an incentive for further good behavior. However, few people consider them before acting. Fewer people want to take responsibility when they turn out to be bad.
Newton’s 3rd Law of Physics tells us that for every action, there is an equal yet opposite reaction. The dictionary defines consequences as the effects, results, or outcomes of something occurring earlier. Most importantly, Scripture says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7) So why is it that we so often live without regard to the consequences of our actions? We all want good consequences for the smallest grain of good that we do, but when we mess up, we fuss and fight over the just desserts of our actions. Why? A. W. Tozer put it this way in his book, The Knowledge of the Holy, “Because man is born a rebel, he is unaware that he is one. His constant assertion of self, as far as he thinks of it all, appears to him a perfectly normal thing… Sin has many manifestations but its essence is one. A moral being, created to worship before the throne of God, sits on the throne of his own selfhood and from that elevated position declares, ‘I AM.’ ”
Part of maturity is the willingness to take responsibility for one’s actions, and the consequences of said actions. The price for a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) offence in New Mexico is considerable. One time, and you go to jail and get a whopping fine. Why, then, are there still so many drunk drivers on the road? With all the sorrow and death that drunk drivers have left in their wake, with the steep penalty, why do so many still do it? Mostly because they think, “It won’t happen to me. I won’t get caught. Nobody will get hurt.”
But there are always consequences, and the Bible shows us two sobering realities about the consequences of bad actions.
1. The fact of judgment. This is a fearful fact for those that do not know Christ as Savior. For those trusting in anything else but Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and glorious resurrection, eternity is not a happy future. For at the Great White Throne judgment, God will judge the lost according to their works, then will cast them forever into the literal Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:11-15). Many Christians will look at this and think that at the end of their life, God will just smile and say “Well done,” give them a pat on the back, and applaud them for having made it to the pearly gates. However, we too will will stand at the judgment seat of Christ, and give an account of what we have done in this life for Christ. Our works will be tried by fire, and what counts for Christ will be gold, silver, and precious stone (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). All else will be wood, hay, and stubble. Oh you will still be saved, and your future in heaven with Christ is secure, but you will have no rewards – no crowns to lay at Jesus’ feet. Be sure, Christian, there is a day of reckoning.
2. Somebody always gets hurt. Sin first and foremost hurts the sinner. Proverbs 5:22 says, “His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.” You cannot sin without great personal detriment to yourself. When you sin, your relationship and communication with God is destroyed (Isaiah 59:1, 2; Psalm 68:18). Your mind and conscience are corrupted (1 Timothy 4:2). And God does say you will reap what you sow (by the way, you always reap more than you sow). And on and on the list could go. But not only does sin hurt the sinner, it affects people around you. “…for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me” (Exodus 20:5). That’s a pretty stiff consequence to push on your great grandchildren. Your sin and mine will have an effect on others around us. God declares it in His Word, so you better bank on it.
Considering the tremendous consequences of our actions would keep us from a lot of trouble. Before you take that first little tiny step, consider where your choice will lead you. Don’t just think about the here and now. Stop and think. Think about the pain in your spouse’s eyes, or the disappointment on your parents’ faces, or the cost it will bring to you personally.
There are both good and bad consequences for our actions. Mature Christians must learn to think about those consequences, and take responsibility for them, both good and bad.
To read part 2, click here!