TC’s Principles and Guidelines for Life #16: “Bad choices do not lead to good places.” One thing I don't see Jesus doing in the writings of his followers is trying to force people to make better choices in life.
For instance, there's the guy who Matthew tells us about in his writings. He gets the title of 'Rich Young Ruler' in most instances.
And Richie (I'm going to go ahead and give him that nickname) asks Jesus what he has to do to have eternal life. After a short conversation, Richie decides he values his possessions more than his relationship with God.
You know what? I'll let Matthew tell his own story:
Now someone came up to him [Jesus] and said, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to gain eternal life?” He said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he asked. Jesus replied, “Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “I have wholeheartedly obeyed all these laws. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he was very rich. (Matthew 19:16-22)
Notice what Jesus does here: lets him walk away.
Doesn't run after him. Doesn't try to sugar coat some issues that Richie needs to deal with. Doesn't lower his standards to accommodate this dude. He lets him walk.
See, one of Jesus' later followers tells us that "...a person will reap what he sows..." (Galatians 6:7)
In other words, if I plant corn seed, later on I'm going to be eating corn. And if I live selfishly, I'm going to get the results of a selfish life down the road.
This is true whether or not you're a follower of Jesus.
If following Jesus meant that I could avoid the consequences for my dumb, selfish actions, I bet everybody would follow Jesus.
It doesn't. If I, as a follower of Jesus, make bad choices, I'm going to have to deal with the consequences.
God will forgive me when I ask for forgiveness, but he's usually going to leave the consequences for me to deal with.
This doesn't even have to involve sin.
My wife and I bought a business several years ago. We didn't do enough research on what we needed to know. When that business failed, it left us with a lot of financial burden. We're still dealing with it today.
God didn't give me a winning lottery ticket. I didn't get a call one day that my debt had been paid in full.
We ran a business unsuccessfully, and we have to deal with the consequences.
That was an inexperienced, unwise choice.
When we make truly bad choices - why should it be any different?
Consequences help us learn.
So if you are in a situation where you are constantly dealing with difficult circumstances, start planting different crops.
Plant grace and mercy and forgiveness instead of anger, frustration or resentment.
And then be patient. What kind of foolish farmer would plant seed on Monday, then give up on his crop that Wednesday?
We sow what we reap, and bad choices lead to bad places.
35@35 is a blog series by Thomas Christianson which involves 35 blog posts in 2014 on 35 things he has learned at the age of 35.