“We are all free to make bad choices and experience the consequences of those choices. However, in a world of Coronavirus, others may experience deadly consequences from our bad choices. Flatten the Curve. Let’s all shelter in place.”
I came across this quote on social media this week. It is an encouragement to people to love their neighbours and communities by practicing social distancing in this troubling time of a global pandemic.
This quote, however, resonates deeply with me because of how universally true this is, not just in the age of COVID-19, but in the age of sin.
Since the very beginning of our existence as humanity, God has given us the choice to act in ways that are good or bad. We have always had the capacity to choose good or evil. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, chose evil, and so has every one of us at some point or another.
In a world that some say is “post-truth”, where we are free to believe what we want and to do what we want, we often forget about how our choices can impact others, both for good or for bad. We believe that as long as we aren’t hurting anyone, that we should be free to do whatever we want to do. Yet sin always hurts us, even when we are unaware of the extent of the damage. Sin’s impact is always greater than we can foresee, and sin’s grip on us is stronger than we are comfortable admitting.
In my devotional reading this past week I read a story from Joshua 7, about a man named Achan, who stole some treasures against the expressed orders of God. His secret sin had an impact on all the people of Israel, as they lost their next battle because of his rebellion and disobedience to God.
Just to be clear, I am NOT trying to say that entire nations will be punished because of your secret sin. What I AM trying to say is that when we choose to act in sinful or evil ways, the consequences will be much greater than what you could have anticipated, just as we see in the story of Achan.
How often have you done something and thought, “Nobody knows I’m doing this, and it doesn’t hurt anybody…” This is a painfully common way to think. The reality is, however, that if you are doing something sinful, it will be hurtful to you at the very least. Furthermore, there are people who love you and so will be impacted when you hurt yourself or do something to limit your own growth. Even if they are unaware of it, they will not experience the best version of you. They are missing out on the you that could have been.
To take this even a little bit further, the time, energy, and sometimes even money that we put into doing bad things could have been redirected to doing good things, and so our sin then potentially robs untold numbers of others from being blessed by us. Thus our sin then ends up unknowingly impacting many others as well.
Our nation and culture is incredibly individualistic, and perhaps times like these can help remind us that while we may be practicing social isolation, we do not exist in isolation from others. Our choices can impact others, whether that is spreading a virus called COVID-19, or whether it is spreading contagious acts of kindness, whether it spreading the virus of sin, or spreading the antidote of love.
Like a pebble dropped into a pond, our lives leave ripples in the world around us that will linger long after we are gone. What kinds of ripples are you leaving behind? Be someone that leaves good ripples.
If I might be so bold, let me close with a modified version of the quote I began with:
“We are all free to make bad choices and experience the consequences of those choices. However, in a world of [brokenness and sin], others may experience deadly consequences from our bad choices.”