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A World of Consequences

From Rev. Eric Carswell, Head Pastor
June 23, 2020

We live in a world in which our choices carry consequences. The infectious nature of Covid-19 has brought this reality to many people’s attention and yet for others they discount the importance of acting differently from what seems intuitive to them. Even apart from infectious diseases, the Lord wants us to see that our choices influence others for good or ill.

A person can regularly act in self-centered and rude ways to people and this pattern of behavior is highly likely to influence the relationships that person has with others. The consequences of the rudeness might be that many of their acquaintances withdraw or start reacting more coolly. Similarly, if a person regularly drives significantly over the speed limit, it is quite likely that the person will receive speeding tickets from time to time. In this case the consequence is handed out by an authority (a policeman). The consequences for the rude behavior and excessive speed can be seen as a direct result of the rude behavior or driving faster than the speed limit. But particularly for the person receiving the consequence, it can seem that a consequence is the result of a choice by another human being. The person who gets the speeding ticket can view the issue as a matter of the policeman not being willing to give them “another chance.” The person who has been acting rudely can think that other people are being uncharitable for withdrawing or acting coolly.

The Lord wants all of us to know that there are consequences for our choices. Sometimes the consequences come immediately and dramatically. Other times the consequences are much more subtle and don’t appear clearly for a long time and sometimes are never quite clear. The Lord wants us to make choices that result in happier consequences for us and for the people around us. At times, we can be remarkably unaware. In the book of Revelation, the Lord says “Behold I stand at the door and knock.” As our loving heavenly Father, He constantly tries to draw our attention to see what effects our choices have for us and to others.

In Ezekiel 33, the Lord uses the image of a watchman on the city walls who is supposed to warn people of the approach of an enemy. Each of us can serve the Lord as a watchman, not by insisting that people do or say what we believe is good and right, even worse by insisting they believe and care about what we believe, but rather by reflecting to them what we see in their behavior. A person might say, “If you keep doing X then I think Y is going to happen.” Sometimes it doesn’t need to be a spoken response. Our own example can speak for itself. The goal is not just correct external behavior, but rather a growing ability to make choices that are better for oneself and for the people around that person. This is what the Lord wants for all of us.

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