In my younger days when I was a youth minister (about 16 years ago) I had the great misfortune of walking between a piñata and a boy with a baseball bat. At the time, I thought I had a good reason – to get in a better position to take his picture. He didn’t have a blindfold on, so I thought I was safe. The bottom line is that my left elbow received a mighty blow from a 12-year-old slugger. I’ve never had a doctor examine it, but I know the whack did some damage. Normally it doesn’t bother me, but if I forget and lean on it I get an immediate reminder of that poor judgment call. In other words, it hurts like fire.
I realize now that I should not have assumed the kid could tell the difference between me and a donkey filled with candy. (I know I’m setting myself up for some clever insults, but please restrain yourself.) I guarantee you that I will never make that mistake again! In a way, I guess you could say I’ve repented of my foolishness, but I still suffer the consequences.
In a spiritual sense, everyone has to learn this lesson. We’ve all done things we know are wrong. As Christians who are no longer slaves to sin, but live for God, ideally we should become disgusted with our worldly nature and stop those sinful practices. And if we’re walking in the light, God forgives us of those sins (1 John 1:7). But our mistakes from the past can still cause suffering, and no matter how forgiven we are, we have to live with the consequences.
I’m sure you can think of many examples of what I’m talking about. A recovered alcoholic may never drink again, but he has to deal with the effects of that poison on his liver, and his family members have to deal with emotional scars for the rest of their lives.
David was “a man after God’s own heart,” but his sin with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband set an example for his children that he was not able to undo. In 2 Samuel 13 his son, Amnon, raped David’s daughter, Tamar. Then another son, Absalom, took revenge by murdering Amnon. Later Absalom staged a rebellion against David and he was forced to flee Jerusalem. Sadly, David learned from experience the lesson that Moses had warned the Israelites about many years earlier: “Be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).
The next time you’re tempted to sin, stop to think about the consequences that you and others will suffer long after you have repented and been forgiven. I know I wish I had gone through that thought process before I decided to step in front of that boy and his bat!