Consequences are things we rarely consider. But even the smaller issues of life like having an extra piece of chocolate cake has its consequences as well as its appeal.
It is difficult for most of us to consider the long and short term outcome of our actions. Courses of action that look appealing “inspire” us. But in considering consequences we must analyze where our inspiration comes from. Satan never advertises the disadvantages of sin but denies them and seeks to blind us to them. Satan’s appeal to Eve encouraged her to sin by telling her of the benefits, while denying its consequences. Read Genesis 3:4-5. Satan always denies God’s Word (Genesis 3:3).
Another reason we don’t consider the consequences is because of God’s long suffering. A long-suffering God gives time for repentance between the acts of sin and the consequences of sin (Eccles. 8:11, 2 Peter 3:9).
Yet, every action has an “afterwards” to it and Proverbs is studded with reminders of this fact. Proverbs calls us to the premise that nothing should be completely judged by its initial enticing stages. This is easily seen in overeating, but it also applies to morality. The moral law of sin and its consequences are written on the tablets of eternity. No man can erase them, he can only ignore them to his eternal hurt or consider them to his eternal blessing. [Chester A. McCalley. Portraits in Proverbs. 1983. pp 55-56.]
Let’s consider some “afterwards” or consequences of a few life choices we make. A great place to start is:
The “Afterwards” of ADULTERY
Look at Proverbs 5:4. “But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.”
The context for these words is a warning to a young man concerning the adulteress.Proverbs 5:1-6 tells of the corruption behind the charms of the adulteress. Proverbs 5:3 focuses on her alluring words that are “smoother than oil” with lips “that drip honey.” Verses 4-6 then turn from her charm to her corruption, or from a consideration of the appeal of immorality to the consequences introduced by but in the end-or afterwards. The consequences of sexual immorality are expressed under two metaphors–wormwood and a two-edged sword. The first represents bitterness, and the second represents that which is very harmful. What seems attractive at first later becomes bitter and sharp. The full end is in view in verse 11.
Sexual immorality is rampant in our day. But we should consider the consequences delineated in God’s Word. Three of the first nine chapters of Proverbs are dedicated to the subject of sexual morality and marital faithfulness. This emphasis is for good reason.
The “Afterwards” of Taking THE WRONG PATH
Proverbs 14:12 & 16:25 reveals that things are not always what they seem to be. “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”
The word way points to one’s course of life–a person’s lifestyle. Walk or way is a continued pattern or a consistent commitment. It takes in all the places he goes, the people he associates with, the work he does, the entertainment he pursues, his whole life scene.
There is a course of life which seems very appealing, so man in his self-deception pursues it with vigor only to find out, in the end, the final result is he has walked in the way of death. By death is meant a broad range of unhappy experiences from simple trouble to premature departure from this life. The choice of this way describes the course of the majority of lives since most select a lifestyle from a basis other than God’s Word.
Self-will. It’s the dominant desire of human beings to do things their own way (Gen. 3:5-6). And that’s exactly how the song ends: “I did it my way.”
In the ordinary affairs of life, the exercise of self-determination may be commendable. But in relationship to God, our way is never right. Our self-will must be subordinated to His Will, as our Savior submissively prayed in Gethsemane’s Garden, “Not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).
Regardless of how painful the surrender of our will may seem, obedience to God saves us from unhappy loss in this world and irrecoverable loss in the world to come. Proverbs 14:12, reminds us that a sinful insistence on self-will can be self-destructive: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Trustful obedience to God’s way, however, brings blessing both now and forever.
Whenever you feel like saying, “I want to do it my way,” remember that Jesus did it His Father’s way. Let this hymn by Adelaide Pollard be your song:
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay;
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, Yielded and still.
Many people think being sincere about life means they are heading the right way. You can be sincere and still be SINCERELY WRONG!
But in the spiritual realm they occur all the time. Regarding salvation, many people will say, “As long as I’m sincere, I’ll come out all right in the end.” They believe they can get to heaven by their good works; but no matter how right it may seem, it’s “the way of death.” Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
Don’t make the mistake of being sincere but sincerely wrong! Acknowledge your sin and guilt before God and ask Jesus to save you today. Man cannot get away with sin. Christ is the way to heaven, all other ways lead to doom.
The Potential “Afterwards” of LAUGHTER
Proverbs 14:13 also teaches that things are not always what they seem to be. “Even in laughter the heart may be in pain, and the end of joy may be grief. “By his laughter a person may give the impression that he is enjoying life when actually in his heart he is hurting emotionally (12:10; 15:13). Appearances can be deceptive. Certain circumstances have unknowable consequences and their end can be quite different from their beginning. Here is the possibility that a gala affair may end in tears. This is a reality of life we should keep in mind. Why are so many comedians prone to drugs and destruction? Because only the Lord can bring true joy. The world can laugh, but it can’t have joy.
The “Afterwards” of Responding to DISCIPLINE
Proverbs 19:20 relays the wisdom that result from accepting instruction. “Listen to counsel and accept discipline, that you may be wise the rest of your days.”
Consequences can be a blessing or grievous. The concept of consequences is here used to encourage us to listen to instruction. If we will submit ourselves to God’s Word and receive His insight, training and discipline with a right spirit, we are promised that we will have a supply of wisdom adequate for all our tomorrow’s. Listening to counsel and accepting instruction (Musar -moral correction and discipline) will make a person wise. We may have lots of ideas or thoughts, but it’s only God’s counsel that truly stands. [“In the end” (5:4; 14:12) could mean the end of one’s life but more likely it refers to some time after the instruction is given. Walvoord, John & Zuck, Roy: The Bible Knowledge Commentary. Wheaton, I : Victor Books, 1983 p. 947]
The “Afterwards” of DISHONEST GAIN
Proverbs 20:17 contrasts the short-range pleasure of sin with its long-range consequences. “Bread obtained by falsehood is sweet to a man, but afterwards his mouth will be filled with gravel.” The taste of food gained dishonesty may at first seem sweet (9:17) but eventually it is as unpleasant as eating gravel. Shady dealings may seem to succeed, but they forfeit the expected profit and not simply leave you empty but turn on their schemer (7:14-23). grow into the same kind of person. The children seeing their father right, proper and moral behavior, his example of integrity, learn how to live life also.
The “Afterwards” of Walking in INTEGRITY
Proverbs 20:7 tells us the end result of man who lives in integrity. “A righteous man who walks in his integrity, How blessed are his sons after him.”
The result of life lived in light of God’s Word is a blessed inheritance to one’s descendants. The children or a man of integrity are encouraged grow into the same kind of person. The children seeing their father right, proper and moral behavior, his example of integrity, learn how to live life also.
The “Afterwards” of EASY GAIN
Proverbs 20:21 warns about a hastily gathered inheritance or wealth. “An inheritance gained hurriedly at the beginning will not be blessed in the end.”
Wealth gained by labor is appreciated. We are not to hasten our inheritance before it’s time to come to us. We see this example with the Prodigal Son, (Luke 15:11-20). Quickly gained wealth will be squandered and often squelches initiative and work ethic. As a result in the end the recipient is not truly blessed by it. God certainly has not hurriedly given us our eternal inheritance and does not give us all the earthly portion of it until He knows we will use it wisely.
The “Afterwards” of FEARING THE LORD
Proverbs 23:17-18 discloses that the immediate pleasure of sin cannot be compared with the ultimate hope associated with the fear of the Lord. “Do not let your heart envy sinners, but live in the fear of the Lord always. Surely there is a future and your hope will not be cut off.”
The man addressed has been observing the success of sinners, and is tempted to envy them. He is admonished to live in the fear of the Lord instead (19:23; 24:21). A happy afterwards awaits if he will do so. Wanting to do what they do is senseless because sinners have no hope (24:20) while the wise and godly do. The idea here is that the believer’s hope will not be disappointed even though at the present moment sinners seem to prosper. Here again the concept of consequences is used to encourage and sustain the believer. Proverbs 24:13-15 is similar.
The “Afterwards of the HASTILY SPOKEN WORD
Proverbs 25:8 warns us concerning the consequences of making a big deal about a issue with a neighbor. “Do not go out hastily to argue your case; otherwise what will you do in the end when your neighbor puts you to shame.”
Great wisdom and discipline is manifested when we take time to carefully consider the possible impact of something we say. Take a look at both sides of the argument and don’t rashly judge based on just visual or incomplete evidence.
If you have a problem with a neighbor, go talk to him quietly, personally, privately. If you make a big deal about it by taking it to court, confrontation will bring revelation that will lead to humiliation because he’ll start talking about you and revealing things you’ll regret. [Courson, Jon: Jon Courson’s Application Commentary : Vol 2. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006, S. 256.]
God’s wisdom enables its adherents to act or not act based on the consequences instead of worldly wisdom, emotions or the attractiveness of the person’s or situation’s stimulants. God makes a firm promise that He will help those who live faithfully for Him. “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” (2 Peter 2:9).
Have you been reading filthy literature or looking at pornographic pictures? Consider the afterwards. You believe there’s pleasure in smoking pot? Consider the afterwards. You get pleasure by “making out” on a date? Consider the afterwards. The pleasure of sin is short-lived. The penalty of sin is lasting. A visit to your City Rescue Mission will convince you, if nothing else does, that “the way of the transgressor is hard” (Proverbs 13:15b). Do a rerun of the fellow we call the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-19). It will reveal that he started with pleasure and riotous living, then went to poverty and misery.
If you are wise, you’ll check the consequences. You will recognize that “God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
©2016 Healing Keys Ministry-Jeffrey S. Moore