Who Else Will Pay the Price?

Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? and that man perished not alone in his iniquity. - Joshua 22:18

As I read through my morning devotions, I was struck by a sobering reminder--I am not the only one who will suffer because of my sins.  My actions (or inaction, as is sometimes the case) affect others.  They have the ability to affect my husband, my parents, my siblings, my friends, my church and even you, my faithful readers.  It's like a falling domino. Rarely does a domino fall without knocking down the others around it. If I think I can do whatever I want and that the consequences of those actions will fall solely on me, I am deceiving myself.  The Bible proves that over and over again.  All of humanity suffers because of the sin of Adam and Eve.  Great wars have existed for centuries because of Abraham's and Sarah's impatience to have a son.  When a single person among the children of Israel did wrong, the entire congregation felt the sting of God's punishment.

"That's not fair," we may think.  "If I'm the one who's done wrong, then I should be the one to pay the price."  True, but maybe God knows that the suffering of those around us will be more effective in setting us straight than limiting His chastisement to ourselves.  God knows how to get our attention and the best way to get us back in shape.  Unfortunately, that often means pouring out His punishment on our loved ones.

It's a depressing thought, right?  So, why am I telling you this?  This is supposed to be an encouraging blog.  Absolutely right, but encouragement doesn't always come in the form of smiley faces and sunshine stickers.  In this case, I am encouraging you to think about your words and actions before you see them through.  And while you're thinking about them, ask yourself two questions:  (1) Who else will this affect?  (2) Do I want this enough that I am willing to let others suffer for it?  The chances are that if we'll ask those two questions before every action, we'll cut down on the sin in our lives.  And that, my friend, is very encouraging!