By Ann White August 14, 2018
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction;
whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”
Galatians 6:7-8 (NIV)
Being tenderhearted, it’s difficult for me to sit still and watch people struggle or suffer, even when it’s a result of their own poor choices. Yet, at times, doing nothing is exactly what we are called to do when ministering to people who repeatedly make unhealthy life choices.
Love– care– and forgiveness should always be unconditional – but consequences shouldn’t.
Our society sometimes places more emphasis on political correctness and protecting one’s emotions, than it does on natural and necessary consequences. Sometimes, celebrity crimes are overlooked, underreported, or even dismissed because of their fame and finances, and our children’s teachers are often restricted from appropriately disciplining our kids.
The danger in these type of practices is that it conveys a contradictory message and removes a person’s need to improve their behavior or strive for excellence. There should always be a proper response and consequence for unlawful, inappropriate, and poor behaviors. Just as there should also be a proper positive response for achievement and good behavior. Without consequences, we dampen the aspirations, ambitions, and drive of those we interact with.
God allows us to reap what we sow – both good and bad. He allows and often appoints, consequences in response to our sin. That way, we will hopefully think twice before repeating our same bad behaviors. King David suffered as a result of his sin against Bathsheba and Uriah (2 Samuel 12:13-14), Moses never stepped foot in the Promised Land because of his sin against God (Deuteronomy 32:48-52), and Jonah will forever be known as the angry and disobedient prophet in response to his defiance toward God and his unwillingness to have compassion for the Ninevites (Jonah 4:1-3). Jesus corrected Martha when she was consumed with her tasks and critical of Mary, and He pronounced seven woes upon the Pharisees for their consistent hypocrisy (Matthew 23:13-30). God rebukes and corrects as an act of love and out of a desire to see us learn from our mistakes. Therefore, we must anticipate the impact of our poor choices, learn from our consequences, and let others struggle when necessary, to avoid interfering with a potential life-change.
Parents must establish suitable consequences when children misbehave. Employers must execute a proper response when employees violate their policies, and in general, we all need to establish appropriate consequences for those who sin against us or violate our boundaries.
Where there are no consequences – there is no respect for rules or boundaries – leading to chaos.
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however,
it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
What consequences have you endured as a result of past mistakes? Did the consequences inspire you to make better choices going forward?