Not every crucial decision appears to be important at the time it is made. A seemingly inconsequential choice made in haste can ultimately unravel the tapestry of our lives.
President Nixon's decision to tape conversations in the Oval Office eventually led to his downfall. The tapes later revealed all his wrong choices.
We are all tempted to take the easy road
The taxpayer who fudges on his income tax, the contractor who substitutes lower-grade materials, the bureaucrat who uses creative bookkeeping to pocket a little extra cash. Ignoring the soft-spoken voice of conscience to satisfy an immediate need or desire leads to such decisions.
The individual who gets caught the first time he glosses over ethics is truly fortunate. He is afforded the opportunity, although unpleasant, to repent and make restitution. The person who repeatedly avoids detection becomes bolder and establishes a pattern of wrong choices. When his deeds finally catch up with him, the damage may be irreparable and the consequences, overwhelming.
In 2 Samuel 12 Nathan the prophet confronted King David with his sins. "You are the man!" Nathan told him (v. 7). God had given David countless blessings and had promised to make David's name great and to establish his kingdom forever (2 Samuel 7:9-16). Yet, in spite of all God's goodness, David had committed adultery with Bathsheba, and then ordered that her husband be killed. For months, David had lived with these unconfessed sins nagging at his conscience and destroying his communion with God. Although God could have allowed David to continue living in that miserable state, He mercifully sent Nathan to confront him.
What do we do when we have failed?
"I have sinned against the Lord," David immediately confessed (2 Samuel 12:13). God forgave David, but the consequences of his sins would wound not only David, but also those he loved. The child born to him and Bathsheba died. And the Lord told him, "Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you" (12:11). Absalom eventually fulfilled this prophecy when he stole the hearts of many in Israel and conspired to wrest the kingdom from his father (2 Samuel 15).
In King David's prayer of repentance in Psalm 51, he asked God to wash away his iniquity and blot out his sins. He recognized that he had sinned against God, and that God was right and just to judge him. "You desire truth in the inner parts ... Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me" (51:6,10,11). David knew that he had grieved the Holy Spirit. He had seen how King Saul had repeatedly sinned, until Saul had slipped into apostasy. Saul had taken the easy road, and it brought him to suicide.
David could have offered thousands of sacrifices to God, hoping to please Him, but he recognized that what God desired was a humble heart and a contrite spirit (51:17). God always wants to bring some good out of our mistakes. David longed to teach others what he had learned, so they could avoid his sins: The easy road ultimately leads to suffering and destruction.
"Lord, guide us today in all our decisions, both big and small. Help us to choose only what will bring honor and praise to You."
© by Nancy A. Stevens
All Scripture verses are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.