“You know this is just a consequence of your sinful choices” was the statement I received after expressing my honesty with the struggle of rebuilding a life for my family and I. I have heard this statement before.
Early on in my process, counselors or recovery mentors would use this phrase to highlight some aspect of “denial” they felt I was in. Insinuating that I was in some way not taking personal responsibility for my actions. [Side note… when you repent, admit wrong, make amends, and seek forgiveness, all without running from your consequences you’re not shanking personal responsibility, nor in denial. You’re actually walking wholehearted in your integrity and rebuilding trust in yourself].
Without empathy attached to this phrase, (“it’s just a consequence of your sinful actions…”), it really just sounds like an “I told you so.” Which is the exact statement I heard early on from the leaders in our former church. “You wouldn’t have these consequences if you had never sinned.”
As if somehow knowing the consequence would deter the action. No healthy person that I’ve met in recovery circle’s has ever thought rationally before making irrational choices…because they’re irrational. Not redemptive. Judgmental, condemning, and self-righteous…but that is par for the organized church experience, from bible colleges to church boardrooms…
That may work for some of you regarding speeding tickets, and doesn’t work for you if you are simply a rebellious person. If you’re just a normal person, then chances are you have done things that you don’t want to do. It is the human condition, (see Romans 7:15 for example here…).
In the moment of our sinful, wrong, or misguided choice, NO ONE is thinking consequence. What they are thinking is symptom relief: escapism, pain management, shame, wanting to numb, whatever…you get the picture. We all seek the path of least resistance and we gravitate towards what works. That’s how bad habits, and good habits are built.
Today I don’t need anyone to remind me of my “consequences.” [See my post on this here.] We got rid of the scarlet letter long ago for branding people for their sins. I see my consequences every day in the face of my wife, my children, the empty bank account, the instability in a barely-minimum wage job, in the home we no longer own, in the friends I no longer have.
Now if you want to be a helpful saint, then you will answer a couple of questions:
1. At what point does the Gospel cease to apply in a persons life?
2. What does practical grace look like in a restoration process?
I was restored and reconciled to Christ the moment I repented, (actually I would argue, I was restored and reconciled the very moment I “became a christian” long before earning the “consequences” I now have…).
3. Is it our job, as saints, to hold people back because of their past?
How much better it would be, if we as a church body, became known for encouraging people on their worst day by coming alongside and validating their worth as more than their negative choices. You know, supporting a redemptive potential, instead of a defining moment. Sound a bit like the Holy Spirit’s role doesn’t it?
Before all you ‘truth tellers’ start citing chapter and verse, let this grace filled truth teller remind you, that God loves us just as much on our worst day, as He does on our best day.
God knew at the cross, every sinful attitude and action YOU would ever commit, and He did not hold that over you (see “…and I remembered their sins no more…” Heb 8:12 & 10:17), nor label you, nor actively seek to disrupt your future. God was for you, and is for you…even on your worst days.
I’m sure that stirs the pot enough for now. If you want to comment, and it’s helpful, great. You don’t have to agree. But if you’re just going to be a sheep and recite the same hammer of truth argument…you will be deleted.