There was an old radio turned television show called Truth or Consequences that ran through the late 1980’s. Wikipedia describes it this way: On the show, contestants received roughly two seconds to answer a trivia question correctly (usually an off-the-wall question that no one would be able to answer correctly, or a bad joke) before “Beulah the Buzzer” sounded (in the rare occasion that the contestant answered the question correctly before Beulah was heard, the question inevitably had two or even three parts). If the contestant could not complete the “Truth” portion, there would be “Consequences,” usually a zany and embarrassing stunt.
Whereas the TV show was built on the premise of an either/or with regards to truth or consequences, real life, as the title of this blog entry mentions, provides a more accurate description: Truth and Consequences. The truth is that all of our actions result in consequences, either for us or someone/thing else or a combination of both.
King David, one of the biggest heroes of the Old Testament, would find out first hand that the truth carried a severe set of consequences. Reading through the Book of 2 Samuel chapters 11 and 12 is a case in point. These chapters tell of his affair with Bathsheba. Here’s the Pastor Chuck condensed version: David sees a beautiful woman as he looks out from the roof of his palace. Giving no thought to future consequences, he has her brought to him for his pleasure. The fact that she was already married to another man wasn’t enough to dissuade him. She gets pregnant as a result and David then plots to have her husband murdered under the guise of putting him in the front lines of the war that was going on at the time. This scheme succeeds and the King is then ‘free’ to marry Bathsheba.
Enter Nathan the Prophet, one of the bravest figures in the Bible. He has received a message from God about David’s sins and is instructed to call the King out on them. There are many accounts from back then where the messenger is killed simply because of the message he bears, but this didn’t stop Nathan from carrying out his orders. He reveals to David that God does indeed know the truth of what he has done. Because of these actions, there will the consequences, the worst of these being that the baby born from this was to die. As this all comes to be, David admits his guilt and asks forgiveness of God. It’s important to note that while forgiveness is granted, the consequences of the actions still happen.
Of the many lessons you and I are to take from this sad situation, probably the most important is to realize and remember that our actions and choices will all have consequences too. Obviously in this space I am referring to the bad or poor choices we make, but let’s not forget the opposite: that our good and proper choices can have positive consequences as well!
As we come to accept the truth about consequences, the more vital issue becomes what are we going to do about them going forward. I have shared in this space before about the ruinous life I lived as an active alcoholic. My totally selfish and senseless life style left a great deal of damage in its wake. One place specifically was in our finances. I accumulated a heap of debt because of my choices. This was just one consequence that I had to deal with as I came to understand the truth of what I had done.
When my wife and I began to pick up the pieces of our life together, we realized the enormity of this debt. In 1991 dollars, I owed well over $100,000. Filing for personal bankruptcy protection alleviated some of this, but not to the IRS and the State of New York. By failing to pay income and sales tax on the business that I owed, there was a substantial amount of restitution to be paid.
To the point of this blog, what was I to do when confronted with this truth? Was I to take out the mail carrier for bringing these notifications and demands for payment like some ancient prophet who delivered bad news? Of course not! How about running away or simply ignoring them? That approach had never really worked for me in the past, so I had to assume it wouldn’t now either. What then was left?
Something that was new to me; owning up to my responsibilities. I had to face and accept the truth. I had screwed up and there were consequences to be paid. God, true to His always faithful character, led the way out from under the cloud of debt that I had caused. Once I accepted my part in this, I asked for His guidance in doing the right thing to clear it up. He did. Not with a winning sweepstakes ticket or some huge inheritance, but rather He with supplied me the opportunity to go back to work. With this blessing came the chance to learn how to deal with money in the proper way, paying my obligations and deciding to pay off the government agencies that I owed.
The grace filled ending to this chapter of my life was that God saw us through it all. Nowadays, I consider myself one of the richest people I know, though my checkbook my want to argue that point! I count my riches in a different way these days, all because God in his mercy saw to point out to me the consequences of my actions. As He did, He has changed my heart, and continues to do so. Am I above consequences for my actions now? Of course not. What I am, however, is more aware of the bigger picture of life going on around me, which helps me to look for and find ways to have the consequences of my actions today be much more positive and good for me and those around me.
Thanks for reading. Please feel free to share any stories of truth and consequences that God has seen you through.
Blessings to all,