"People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall. People who wink at wrong cause trouble, but a bold reproof promotes peace." (Proverbs 10:9-10) NLT
As you look back on your life, isn't it true that much of the pain you've experienced in your life has been self inflicted? Obviously this doesn't apply to things like your parents' divorce, abuse you may have experienced as a child, etc. But I'm sure most of us can look back on our lives and see how our own sin (lust, selfishness, pride, etc.) has caused pain and suffering not only for us but in many cases for those around us. Even if we can't see it in ourselves, we can certainly see it in the lives of people we know. What we do matters. In fact, who we are matters-- our character, our integrity, our capacity for self control.
"Don't be misled--you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit." (Galatians 6:7) NLT
In other words, you reap what you sow. A pornography addiction can derail a marriage. A sex addiction while you're single can actually derail your future marriage (not intuitive, I know). A gambling addiction can derail your finances. A drug addiction can derail your entire life. Worse than that, you don't even have to sow for a long time to experience the consequences. One night of indiscretion can get a 15 year old girl pregnant (or worse). Fifteen drunk minutes behind the wheel can end somebody's life. Sometimes a single seed is all it takes.
The outcome of our lives depends not only on our general wisdom in the various areas of life (ex. should I buy a new or used car?) but it depends even more so on how closely we are following our Savior. When we have a relationship with God, He leads us toward things like honesty, integrity, purity, holiness... These things are the foundation for living a life that avoids pitfalls and avoids being on the receiving end of punishment and justice. God honors and blesses us as we strive to be who He wants us to be. When we choose the wrong paths, we are wise to expect correction in one form or another.
The Bible is full of passages that make it clear that what we do will catch up to us. Here are a couple more:
"Justice is a joy to the godly, but it terrifies evildoers." (Proverbs 21:15) NLT
"Can a man scoop a flame into his lap and not have his clothes catch on fire? Can he walk on hot coals and not blister his feet? So it is with the man who sleeps with another man's wife. He who embraces her will not go unpunished." (Proverbs 6:28-29) NLT
Are you doing something that, if you were caught, would likely create serious difficulty in your life? What is it in your life you least want someone to know about? Examine the risk associated with being found out. If you assume that what scripture says is true (ie. you will be found out eventually), is it worth it?
Mike Shoemake is a former worship leader and youth minister who grew up as the son of an Army chaplain. He lives in Alpharetta, GA with his wife and son.