When I was a lot younger and did things that were wrong, Dad would often ask me what possessed me to do what I did. Being a child or teenager, I would tell him my friends or other children or teenagers were doing the same thing. He would then ask me the same question that other parents and those before them asked, “If they all jumped off a cliff, would you?”
He would stop his lecture and leave me with that thought. To a child or a teenager, it didn’t really sink in. When I got older, I learned exactly what it meant and soon found myself asking the very same question of my daughter.
When you consider the question, you begin to realize that what people do as a collective may not be the right thing to do. Many will say that what they are doing isn’t really hurting anyone, but that really isn’t true. Actions always have intended or unintended consequences. It may not be apparent for a period of time, but those consequences do pop up.
For example, a famous singer got very upset with a photographer who photographed her house and then posted it to an obscure website that hardly anyone visited. In time, she found out about it and decided to sue the photographer. Due to her celebrity status, her lawsuit not only drew a lot of attention but it also called attention to the website with the picture of her house. More and more people visited the website and downloaded the picture. By the time the case came to trial, everyone knew about her house. If the singer had just left well enough alone, the picture would have remained on an obscure website in the backwash of the Internet.
Sometimes the action we perceive as the best thing to do often comes back and bites us. Once again, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. This is always the case. This law not only applies in physics but also in life. Isaac Newton, through his third wave of motion, may not have realized that he described human action. By changing a few words, we could say that every action has an intended or unintended consequence.
With that “law” in mind, we can easily see that what we do, by following others, can often lead to something that hurts people and shows disobedience to God’s will. When some see what we are doing, they may decide that the actions we are taking are good especially if we profess ourselves to be Christians. This only causes confusion to others and takes away from our Christian life.
Paul, in chapter four of his epistle to the Ephesians, writes, “Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.”
The action of others should not lead to a consequence in our lives. We have given up our sinful life and have been justified in God’s eyes by His son, Christ Jesus, when we accepted him. By continuing to follow the others in their earthly ways, we not only confuse other people but also confuse ourselves. The consequences to our actions can’t be calculated. We slip back into our old, sinful ways and we become a bad model for others. They see our lives and what we are doing and they justify their actions through our actions. You see how our actions can cause issues for others. All of this started by living our lives like we used to live.
We all once walked in darkness and did whatever we wanted to do. Our goal was only pleasure and we didn’t care who or what we hurt in the process. But, when we accepted Jesus into our lives, things changed. We walked in light and became a temple for God to show His love and power through. We no longer wandered away from Him, but, rather, drew near to Him. His son taught how to live a righteous life as a child of God. We no longer possessed hearts of stone but hearts full of life and love as Christians.
So, my brothers and sisters in Christ, don’t follow the ways of others or return to your old ways. That old life is dead and you should be living in life and light as a child of God. Our actions can either lead others to God or produce confusion not only in our lives but also in the lives of others. God has given us a brand new start and has washed away our sins. Don’t let the actions of others be your guide and your excuse. Live as an example and testament for others to see God’s love and abundant grace that will give them peace like no other can give.
By walking daily along the path of righteousness, you help others to find the way back to the Father. When you do those things, you are being obedient and are able to stand firm in His grace.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.