Years ago when The Doctor was a youth and people still believed that the earth was flat, he made some choices that weren’t very smart.
For example, there was the time when The Doctor borrowed his father’s car and then slammed it into a telephone pole while attempting to show off for his girlfriend. That wasn’t very bright. Then there was the time when he accidentally set his science lab partner on fire (he lived but his shirt didn’t). Then there was another time when The Doctor substituted baking soda for baking powder while making fluffy little muffins for a home economics class. This produced a not-so-fluffy muffin that was harder than a rock and tasted about the same.
Anyway, The Doctor learned a very simple, but very important lesson from these experiences. That lesson was this: choices lead to consequences. In every area of life, the choices that you make today will lead to the consequences that you’ll have to face tomorrow.
Now a “consequence” of course, is something that results from an earlier choice or action. To illustrate this, let’s use the muffin example that we just talked about. The choice was putting the wrong ingredient into the muffin mix. The consequence that resulted from that choice was a muffin that was more like a brick than a muffin.
Consequences can be good or bad depending on the choices that you make. For example, if you make the choice to follow God’s plan for your life, then you can expect to see a number of positive consequences resulting from that decision. For instance, Galatians 5:22-23 gives us a short list of these positive consequences that are referred to as the “fruit of the Spirit.”
These positive consequences include the characteristics of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Now this is not to say that people who truly follow God will have a problem-free existence but it does mean that these positive consequences should be seen in a Christian’s life in spite of any problems that may exist.
On the other hand, a decision to ignore God always carries negative consequences. Sometimes those consequences are immediate and sometimes they may not be fully seen for months or even years later. Along with the positive consequences that result from living a Godly lifestyle, Galatians chapter five also lists a number of negative consequences that often show up the lives of people who reject, ignore, or are just not interested in God…
“But when you follow your own wrong inclinations, your lives will produce these evil results: impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, spiritism (that is, encouraging the activity of demons), hatred and fighting, jealousy and anger, constant effort to get the best for yourself, complaints and criticisms, the feeling that everyone else is wrong except those in your own little group– and there will be wrong doctrine, envy, murder, drunkenness, wild parties, and all that sort of thing. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).
Like the positive consequences that result from following God, the negative consequences for following an ungodly lifestyle can also take on many different forms. Sometimes the consequences are emotional, such as the feeling of guilt that often occurs when you know that you’ve done something wrong.
Other times the consequences can be physical. For example, if you choose to abuse alcohol or drugs or get involved in an inappropriate sexual relationship, then there may be physical consequences associated with those choices. The important thing to remember is that -good or bad- choices always lead to consequences.
If you’d like to see both of these concepts in action then you don’t need to look any further than the Biblical example of King Solomon. In the Old Testament book of 1 Kings we’re told that a man named Solomon became the king of Israel following the death of his father, King David (1 Kings 2:10-12). Shortly after Solomon became the king, God presented him with this choice…
“At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, ‘Ask for whatever you want me to give you'” (I Kings 3:5 NIV).
Think about that for a moment. Suppose that God came to you and told you that you could have anything –anything– that you wanted! What would you ask for? What choice would you make? Well, let’s see what choice Solomon made…
“(King Solomon said,) ‘Give me an understanding mind so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between what is right and what is wrong. For who by himself is able to carry such a heavy responsibility?’
The Lord was pleased with his reply and was glad that Solomon had asked for wisdom. So he replied, ‘Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people and haven’t asked for a long life, or riches for yourself, or the defeat of your enemies– yes, I’ll give you what you asked for! I will give you a wiser mind than anyone else has ever had or ever will have! And I will also give you what you didn’t ask for– riches and honor! And no one in all the world will be as rich and famous as you for the rest of your life! And I will give you a long life if you follow me and obey my laws as your father David did'” (I Kings 3:9-14).
So God honored Solomon’s choice to ask for wisdom and gave him the additional blessings of honor, riches, and prosperity. The consequences of Solomon’s wise choice made him the wisest, wealthiest, and most powerful man on the planet in his day.
But the blessings didn’t end there, for Solomon’s decision to ask for wisdom also meant prosperity for the entire nation of Israel. Since Solomon was the king, this meant that the entire nation got to share in his blessings. So the consequences of Solomon’s decision affected him and it also affected everyone who was associated with him. This man’s choice lead to consequences that were good for himself and for a lot of other people too.
Unfortunately, things did not continue to go so well. Later on we find that Solomon turned away from God as he grew older. This caused him to make other choices that lead to other consequences that were not so good…
“King Solomon married many other girls besides the Egyptian princess. Many of them came from nations where idols were worshiped– Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and from the Hittites– even though the Lord had clearly instructed his people not to marry into those nations, because the women they married would get them started worshiping their gods. Yet Solomon did it anyway.
He had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines; and sure enough, they turned his heart away from the Lord, especially in his old age. They encouraged him to worship their gods instead of trusting completely in the Lord as his father David had done. Solomon worshiped Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Milcom, the horrible god of the Ammonites.
Thus Solomon did what was clearly wrong and refused to follow the Lord as his father David did” (I Kings 11:1-6).
Bad move. Because Solomon made the choice to get involved with women who didn’t believe in the one true God, this is what happened…
“Jehovah was very angry with Solomon about this, for now Solomon was no longer interested in the Lord God of Israel who had appeared to him twice to warn him specifically against worshiping other gods. But he hadn’t listened, so now the Lord said to him, ‘Since you have not kept our agreement and have not obeyed my laws, I will tear the kingdom away from you and your family and give it to someone else'” (I Kings 11:9-11).
So Solomon made a really good choice and received the benefit from it. Unfortunately, he also made a really bad choice and had to deal with the consequences of that decision. Of course, Solomon is not the only example of this. People sometimes think that they can disrespect God and get away with it because they assume that God doesn’t exist, or even if He does exist, then He doesn’t really care. In fact, Solomon himself talked about this kind of attitude when he wrote, “Because God does not punish sinners instantly, people feel it is safe to do wrong” (Ecclesiastes 8:11).
Sometimes it’s easy to think that people are getting away with the things that they’ve done wrong but make no mistake- nobody “gets away with it” forever. The consequences always come; it’s just a question of when. Or as it says in Romans 2:6, God “will give to each person according to what he has done”.
There’s another thing too. Remember that Solomon’s choices affected many other people beside himself. The same is true for us today. Your choices (and their consequences) will not only affect you but they will also affect your friends, your family, and maybe people that you don’t even know. No one lives a totally isolated life and the choices that you make will definitely have an effect on others for better or for worse.
Now some of you might be saying, “Yeah, but what if I choose to do nothing?” Well even the choice to do nothing has an impact on the people who would have been affected if you had done something. So you can see that even choosing not to make a choice still has consequences. Try as we might, we can’t escape making choices and living with the consequences that follow them. The key is to make good choices so that the right consequences will follow.
This is so important that The Doctor wants to encourage you to start your day off right each morning by first asking God to help you make wise choices throughout the day. Remember- choices lead to consequences!