One of my daughters likes to put inspirational sayings up on her bedroom walls. We’ve gotten nice digital prints of a couple of them, and put them in pretty frames. They’re all positive and encouraging.
When my girls became teenagers, I thought about posting the following statement somewhere in their rooms.
You can choose your sin, but you can’t choose the consequences of your sin.
It’s been many years since I heard that quote (and I can’t remember where!) I doubt it exactly qualifies as inspirational, but it’s definitely true and worth remembering.
I’ll apply this first to our teenagers (or really any age children. And don’t worry, it will get more personal later.)
They have a free will. In spite of what we’ve taught them and the truths they know, they will still sin. We all do.
But I want my girls to understand that when they choose to sin, there will be consequences. Some of those sins, perhaps the private ones that no one else knows about, may only affect their personal relationship with God. The fellowship is broken.
Other, more public sins, may have more public consequences. Regardless, when they make the choice to sin, they open themselves up to ramifications.
The point is to hopefully help them understand this concept so that they will stop and think before they make the choice to sin. I think a great Bible verse to reinforce this concept is Galatians 6:7.
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
What better Bible story to demonstrate this truth than that of Adam and Eve? They chose to sin. Yes, the serpent beguiled Eve, but she took of the forbidden fruit. Then Adam ate also.
What happened at the end of Genesis 3? God allowed them to continue to live on the earth. He clothed them with animal skins. But the consequences of their sin – pain in childbearing, a cursed ground, having to leave the beautiful garden – still had to be suffered.
Not only that, but those consequences still affect us today. So it often is with our sin. The impact of the consequences reaches into other people’s lives.
Remember David’s sin with Bathsheeba and the subsequent killing of Uriah. We know David’s passionate plea for forgiveness in Psalm 51. He was forgiven, but his infant son still died, and there was ongoing violence in his family. [2 Samuel 12]
And while it’s great to illustrate this to my teenagers, it’s every bit as true for me at my “advanced” age as it is for them.
I can choose to gossip, but I don’t get to choose whether or not that gossip will be repeated to the person I talked about. I can choose to say something negative about my husband, but I can’t choose how hurt he will be if he finds out.
I can worry and doubt God, and the consequence will be the loss of peace that He can provide. When I choose to sin, I open myself up to its consequences.
Some life lessons are hard. That’s true whether you’re experiencing it yourself, or watching one of your children go through it. And having to live with the consequences of your sin is usually painful in some way.
But as we repent, God forgives. In His mercy and grace, He continues to grow us. And if we will learn from sin’s consequences, we can move ahead in victory in our walk with Him.