In this world we all face bad stuff. Sometimes others wound you, and those scars are painful. But what can be even more painful is when you face the consequences of your own bad behavior, your “wrong choices.” How does God deal with you then?
I think we all face things like this:
- Over years of unhealthy living you became seriously overweight
- You’re struggling with infertility because of an STD you contracted during an unwise “hookup”
- After smoking for a long time you developed lung disease
- The credit card debt you racked up buying unnecessary “stuff” is making you physically ill
- You had an affair, and now your marriage is on life support
Sure, you could rationalize. Most of us do for a long time. And there are plenty of excuses you could come up with that would actually be quite true:
- Your parents were fat, plus they never taught you how to eat healthy.
- You were lonely, you tried to be “careful,” and the guy said he didn’t have any STDs.
- You had no idea how unhealthy smoking was when you started, and you tried to quit several times – unsuccessfully.
- You were sure your income was on the way up, and you meant to pay off those credit cards.
- Your spouse had refused you friendship, communication, and sex so long an affair seemed your only choice.
But deep down you know those are just excuses. It makes you feel a little better to not think about your own part in causing your problems, but part of you feels guilty. Weak. Dirty. Hopeless. Ashamed.
Slick junk food, cigarette, or credit card marketing aside, you know there’s a certain degree to which you’re responsible. Now you’re stuck with the consequences of your bad behavior. And it stinks.
For the believer, worst of all is often feeling as though you’ve let God down. Perhaps you’ve asked for forgiveness, and tried to do better, but failed again and again. Your head believes God is good and loving and that He has forgiven you, but your heart still wonders.
Let’s accept the fact that some of our wounds are other-inflicted, some are self-inflicted, and sometimes it can be hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. But here’s some good news:
The gospel means Jesus came to heal all wounds – those others cause us, and those we cause. Tweet that.
If you’re struggling with the consequences of your own bad behavior, know these things:
- Everyone is wounded. Some of us are more able to hide the consequences of our sins than others. But every single person – you, me, your pastor, your friends – has done things for which they bear the scars. Some are just more visible than others.
- Jesus came to heal and restore. That includes both those things done to us and those things we do to ourselves. He wants to heal you from all of it. He’s not nagging you to “do better;” He’s in the process of MAKING you better.
- God doesn’t always remove consequences. You already know that; that’s why you’re feeling guilty. Moses couldn’t enter the Promised Land. David lost his son with Bathsheba. But living with consequences does NOT mean God is not with you.
- God can bring good out of what was meant for evil. Even those bad things you do to yourself. That’s part of the miraculous way He works with each of us. The very wounds you carry may be the thing God uses to bring blessings to others.
- God wants your transformation. Yes, He forgives you for your past. But He also wants to change your present and your future. We experience a great measure of God’s transforming power here and now. He wants to change you from the inside out, making your heart into one that wants to do what’s right. (See Hebrews 8:10)
So what should you do right now if you’re wrestling with the consequences of bad behavior?
- Own your part. It does no good to keep on blaming. Take ownership of your part – however large or small – in causing your problem. Don’t hide it from God, from yourself, or from others. Stop blaming others. This is your stuff.
- Work with God for your healing. Do what is within your power to do to experience God’s restoration: get the medical care, counseling, or other help you need. Make the lifestyle changes you need. Do the long hard work of trying to restore your marriage. Do your part.
- Let God do the heavy lifting. None of us can carry the full weight of the consequences of our sin. That’s why we need God’s forgiveness! And that means He carries the weight of all our stuff. Let Him have it.
- Stick around for God’s transformation. The change in your heart takes time. Let God tell you what needs to be changed, and give Him permission to do so. Keep coming back for His help over and over again, as long as it takes.
- Let God use you. Yes, He still can! Telling your story may be the very way in which He uses you, or it may be though other skills and gifts. You’re not off the hook just because you messed up. You still have a job to do for His kingdom.
It’s time to move forward. God needs you. And others need you.
And the consequences of moving forward are ones you’ll be proud to look back on.
[reminder]Is there some consequence you’re living with now that you wish you didn’t have? What is one thing you can do today to move forward?[/reminder]
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- God has a great way of dealing with the consequences of your bad behavior. Tweet that.