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Unplanned Consequences

by Ethan R. Longhenry

The girl heard the news and began to sob. She could feel all of her dreams and expectations for life changed on account of the unplanned consequences of her fornication.

When the drunk finally regained consciousness and the news of his actions and upcoming trial were brought to him, he was dumbfounded. He could never have imagined the unplanned consequences of his drunk driving.

The children were no longer the same. Happy and bright young boys and girls were now moody, depressed, and restless teenagers. The parents mourned the unplanned consequences of their divorce.

Such stories, while heartbreaking, represent common themes in our current society. How many people, had they recognized the unplanned consequences of their deeds, would have acted differently? How often is the old adage repeated, "Hindsight is 20/20?" Such, however, represents the nature of sin: sin seduces with fleeting pleasure without betraying its terrible consequences (Hebrews 3:12-14; 11:25).

Christians understand that sin has unplanned consequences, and such is part of the reason we must so strongly proclaim God's truth so that more can be delivered from the darkness of sin and be transferred to the Kingdom (Colossians 1:13). We sympathize with people living with unplanned consequences for sin, having once been sinful and without hope ourselves (Titus 3:1-8).

Do we deceive ourselves, however, into thinking that unplanned consequences only come upon people in such situations? Should we also not consider how our own actions and attitudes may have unplanned consequences?

What if, as Christians, we choose to spend more time with worldly associates and less time with fellow Christians? Sure, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with spending time with people of the world, and if we are to promote the Gospel in this world, we must have such association at times (I Corinthians 5:9-10; Matthew 5:13-16). Yet we are told to prefer one another and to consider fellow believers as brothers and sisters, as dear or more dear than physical family (Romans 12:10; Matthew 12:46-50). The unplanned consequences could involve one falling away on account of the bad influence (I Corinthians 15:33), a spiritual weakening for the same reason, or seeing the same trend in one's children who are never as faithful as they ought to be.

What if, as Christians, we frequently choose social or sporting events, television shows, minor ailments, or any other reason over assembling with the saints? While we may not be violating the letter of Hebrews 10:24-25, we certainly violate its spirit. The unplanned consequences of such preferences could include a lack of encouragement or even discouragement of other Christians, spiritual laxity and weakening, and a negative pattern established for our children.

What if, as Christians, we can only complain and speak negatively of Christians and the church? Such is against Philippians 4:8 and James 5:9. Furthermore, the negative consequences can include further sliding into spiritual weakness, discouraging those with whom you communicate to the point of spiritual weakness and apostasy, and children who understandably want little to nothing to do with such a source of negativity in the lives of their parents.

While unplanned consequences of sin in life can often be endured, we must always be sober minded and strive to avoid difficulties when possible. Why should we even flirt with the possibility of becoming spiritually discouraged, impacting others negatively for their faith, or even being a reason for the eventual unfaithfulness of children? Let us determine to do away with unplanned consequences and follow God today!