The Reality of Consequences
When I was in high school many years ago, corporal punishment was still acceptable. If you were an athlete, the punishment was normally carried out by one of the coaches. Anytime I showed up in the gym area at an unscheduled time, the coach on duty knew I had been sent for disciplinary reasons. He would take out the paddle and say, “Bend over!” As I recollect, I heard those two words frequently.
It never occurred to me to become angry, because I knew that I was guilty. Being guilty, the right thing to do was to accept the consequences of my actions. This was not a noble attitude on my part. It was a truth learned growing up in the fifties. The truth was that our choices always come with consequences.
It seems to me that as a whole, modern society has failed to teach this important truth. Instead, it teaches that one should accept responsibility only when it is absolutely necessary. It also teaches that once responsibility has been accepted, the individual should expect forgiveness without consequences. We see these lessons taught regularly in the public square as well known people are forced to confess to their misconduct. Once they have come clean, they expect to continue life without having to own the consequences of their actions.
It would be nice if it was that easy, but it is not. While sincere apology may warrant forgiveness, it does not guarantee that the events set in motion by bad choices will not continue to move forward to the final consequences of our actions. In fact, when one continually attempts to avoid the consequences of their deeds, he often makes matters worse.
Scripture teaches us that forgiveness is available to each one of us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross. His death and resurrection has provided a means of pardon for all those who receive Him into their life. The pardon He provides sets one free from the penalty of sin, which is eternal separation from God. However, this does not mean that one is relieved of all the consequences of his prior actions. For example, if someone chooses to live a sexually promiscuous lifestyle and as a result contracts a sexually transmitted disease, he can sincerely confess his failure before God and be completely forgiven, but this does not mean that he will not have to continue to deal with the disease that has been contracted.
Scripture tells us, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap”(Galatians 6:7 NASB). Experience validates this timeless scriptural truth. Therefore, it is important that we begin to teach our children this truth early in life. If they do not learn this truth from childhood experiences, they will be forced to learn it as adults and this can be many times more painful.