Most people are probably familiar with the idea of “cause and effect” but for those who aren’t, this term simply refers to an action, event, or decision which is followed by the consequence that comes from it.
For instance, a good grade on a math test would be the effect that’s caused by study and preparation. In baseball, the ability to throw a good curveball would be the effect that’s caused by lots of practice. Or let’s say that some highly intelligent person wants to see if they can juggle three chainsaws, two meat cleavers and a live wolverine at the same time. The effect of that decision would probably include a trip to the hospital emergency room. We could go on with more examples like this but you probably get the idea by now.
Anyway, the Bible tells us that a kind of “cause and effect” relationship also exists for Christians too. Colossians 3:1-3 talks a little about this when it says…
“Since you became alive again, so to speak, when Christ arose from the dead, now set your sights on the rich treasures and joys of heaven where he sits beside God in the place of honor and power. Let heaven fill your thoughts; don’t spend your time worrying about things down here. You should have as little desire for this world as a dead person does. Your real life is in heaven with Christ and God.”
The cause that the Bible speaks of here is being alive to God by accepting Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and being “raised with Him” to a new kind of life. The effect of this new kind of life is (or should be) a new, God-honoring lifestyle and a totally new way of looking at things.
For example, do you know people who are easily distressed? You know, people who are always worried or nervous or tensed-up about something that might possibly happen? Well, that kind of effect can sometimes occur when someone isn’t truly convinced that God is in control of their life and really does have their best interests in mind. Now there’s nothing wrong with sometimes having feelings of concern, but it’s something completely different to feel like your life is controlled by anxiety and fear.
So how can someone overcome this? Well, the way to deal with the effect is to first deal with the cause. Philippians 4:6-7 gives us the solution…
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.”
As a Christian continues to put their focus on God by telling Him about those feelings of worry or anxiety, they’ll find that those things will eventually start to come into their proper perspective. After all, any problem is small in comparison to a God that can handle anything, right? The next step is found in Philippians 4:8…
“…Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.”
Instead of spending time thinking about all the bad things that might happen, ask God to help you concentrate on those things that you can be thankful for now. Prayerfully discipline yourself to look for the positive things that exist in other people or within your particular situation.
Above all, don’t say, I just can’t help worrying! Remember that Philippians 4:13 tells you, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (NKJ). With God’s help, you can do this if you decide you really want to.
Now this “cause and effect” thing doesn’t only cover stuff like fear and anxiety. Your relationship with God should have the effect of producing a positive, God-honoring lifestyle in every area of your life. The book of Colossians gives us some other areas where the effect of someone’s relationship with God should be seen…
“Away then with sinful, earthly things; deaden the evil desires lurking within you; have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires; don’t worship the good things of life, for that is idolatry. God’s terrible anger is upon those who do such things. You used to do them when your life was still part of this world; but now is the time to cast off and throw away all these rotten garments of anger, hatred, cursing, and dirty language.
Don’t tell lies to each other; it was your old life with all its wickedness that did that sort of thing; now it is dead and gone. You are living a brand new kind of life that is continually learning more and more of what is right, and trying constantly to be more and more like Christ who created this new life within you” (Colossians 3:5-10).
The unhealthy behaviors seen above are all things that can show up in the lives of people who choose to live as if God doesn’t exist. But the reality for Christians should be a lot different, for the Bible teaches that God causes some real positive changes in the lives of those people who follow Him.
You see, whenever someone makes the decision to accept Jesus Christ as Savior, the Bible tells us that God’s Holy Spirit actually takes up residence within them (see John 14:17, Romans 8:10, Galatians 4:6 and 1 John 4:4). This cause should have a real effect- especially on our relationships with others. Here’s a few examples of what we’re talking about…
“But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control… Those who belong to Christ have nailed their natural evil desires to his cross and crucified them there” (Galatians 5:22-24).
So when you make the decision to really follow God’s plan for your life you can expect to see some positive effects from that decision. That’s what we see in the Scriptures above- a list of positive effects that result from living a God-honoring lifestyle. Now this is not to say that people who follow God will never have any problems, but it does mean that these positive effects will be seen in their lives in spite of their problems.
So whenever you’re dealing with unhealthy things in your life, remember to deal with the effect by first dealing with the cause. Remember, “Those who let themselves be controlled by their lower natures live only to please themselves, but those who follow after the Holy Spirit find themselves doing those things that please God. Following after the Holy Spirit leads to life and peace, but following after the old nature leads to death” (Romans 8:5-6).