The Consequences of Our Actions

By Ward Shope

In the movie Nanny McPhee, a widower’s seven children are committed to preventing him from making a drastic mistake by marrying an ill-suited widow who only wants him for his inheritance.  Simon, the oldest child, has a plan to break them up.  But realizing that the magical and just nanny might object to their plot, he requests her non-interference.  “Are you willing to face the consequences?” she asks Simon.  “Yes.” he replies.  And so she agrees.  Their plans succeed, but unless the miraculous occurs (and it does), the result is a life of poverty and family separation.

We never fully understand the consequences of our actions.  On the one hand, there is the delusion that we know what the outcome will be, or we believe we will be able to control it.  On the other, we are deceived that our motivations are pure and just and ought to be heeded by whatever powers there be.  Both are the result of the pride of our hearts.  Plotting in God’s world is a dangerous thing.

I was reading Psalm 7 the other day and stumbled upon these words.  “Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies.  He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made. His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends.”  It’s easy for me to see myself as not “wicked” and therefore make this passage irrelevant to my life.  But the wicked here are simply those committed to their own plans, rather than submitting to the Lord’s.  And I’ve done that quite a bit.  In other words, I’ve asked myself (or maybe God has asked me) if I’m willing to face the consequences of my actions and I’ve said “Yes.”

I could take you through a litany of how this has played out in my life – everything from mild embarrassment to losing a job.  In none of those cases did I believe at the time that what I was doing was wicked.  Just the opposite.  Most of the time I believed I was saving the world – well, at least myself – from certain disaster.  And I also believed I could tell you the consequences that would occur as a result and was way wide of the mark.

I don’t know all the implications of this.  The Lord encourages careful and humble planning.  But somehow both the means of that planning and the consequences themselves need to be freely offered to him to do with what he wants.  It’s living by faith he desires – not our ability to save the world or to predict the future.  Those are his responsibility.

The other thing I’m thankful for is that as believers we often don’t face the consequences.  We may often deserve to fall into the pit we’ve dug or to have life come crashing down on our heads.  And while we may justly have to face some consequences, the firm promise is that Jesus takes the ultimate consequences of our godless pride on himself.  And daily, he is far more merciful that that.