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Pointers along the way #142

Facing the consequences
- Jacob Ninan

As human beings, a lot of our actions are spontaneous, having been conditioned by our personality make up and past experiences. Given a certain situation our reaction can usually be predicted. But fortunately that is not the end of the story. God has also given us the ability to think about the possible consequences of the actions we are considering, and make choices accordingly. Thank God we have the ability to change our behaviour.

But as people who are born in sin and bound to foolishness (Ps.51:5;Pr.22:15), we tend to ignore what we know to be right in order to choose what appears to give us immediate or short term satisfaction or pleasure.

God is right when He says that we have already within us the knowledge of what is good and bad (Ro.1:19). This is our conscience which we are all born with, and which gets much more enlightened through the Holy Spirit once we are born again. But it is possible for us to suppress our conscience when we want to do something that we know to be wrong but which we like nevertheless (v.18).

But we mustn't forget that every choice that we make has its consequences, good or bad (Ga.6:7,8). Bad consequences are something we can't escape, even if we repent later and receive forgiveness. In rare cases God may remove them too along with forgiving us. But at the same time He is also sharp enough to see who is trying to take advantage of this possible show of mercy!

Sometimes we have to learn wisdom the hard way through having to deal with the consequences of our sins. These after effects of sin can be very painful to bear, even when we know that God has forgiven us. Broken relationships, lost opportunities, damage (sometimes irreparable) done to ourselves and others (our children?), sinful habits that are difficult to overcome, etc., can weigh heavily on our lives. What do we do at such times?

Many of us still refuse to take responsibility for our sins. We don't acknowledge that it is our sins that have caused these problems. We blame everyone else but us. We get angry with God for allowing such things to happen to us, not realising that it was we who asked for them by our choices.

What about being honest with God and telling Him how it is we who have messed up our lives through certain wrong choices and actions? This acknowledgment is fundamental to healing. Without this there is no forgiveness also. But when we do this, we hear the Lord telling us that He has indeed forgiven us and washed us from every stain of our sin (1Jn.1:9). He also tells us that He will now cause even the stupid things we have done to work something for our good (Ro.8:28). Our situation may not change immediately, but it certainly changes inside us. We learn some strong lessons on life, and become more humble and more careful with our lives, and also a blessing to others around us by passing along the comfort we have received from the Lord (2Co.1:3,4).