John Donne was an English clergyman and poet who lived from 1572-1631. He’s the fellow who coined the well-known phrase, “No man is an island unto himself.” Wise, guy, he was. He understood that the choices we make impact not only ourselves but also those around us.
Take Rahab, for instance. She’s the prostitute who lived in Jericho and gained fame for hiding two Israelite spies from danger. Apart from saving their lives, how did her decision to help them affect others?
Joshua 6:24-25 gives us the answer: “Then the Israelites burned the town [Jericho] and everything in it. Only the things made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron were kept for the treasury of the LORD’s house. So Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute and her relatives who were with her in the house, because she had hidden the spies Joshua sent to Jericho.”
Rahab’s decision to protect the spies set a major ripple effect into motion. I’m sure her family appreciated the risk she took on their behalf.
On the other hand, I’ll bet Achan’s family wasn’t impressed with the choice he made and how it affected them. Joshua 7:20 says, “Achan replied, ‘It is true. I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. Among the plunder I saw a beautiful robe from Babylon, 200 silver coins, and a bar of gold weighting more than a pound. I wanted them so much that I took them. They are hidden in the ground beneath my tent, with the silver buried deeper than the rest.’”
Achan saw the loot, made an instantaneous decision to disregard God’s command to destroy it all, and he hid it under his tent. That choice triggered a ripple effect that cost his family members dearly. Contrary to Rahab’s story, he and his relatives died because of his disobedience.
Let’s connect the dots here. Our choices trigger a ripple effect, too. Here are a few examples.
- Choosing to engage in an extramarital affair impacts our spouse, our kids and future generations, our friends, our church family, and our witness for Christ to unbelievers who know us.
- Choosing to not eat properly or exercise regularly for a long time could result in our becoming sick with preventable illnesses. Fulfilling our responsibilities at home and at work will be affected. Others will have to pick up the slack or care for us when we’re out of commission.
- Choosing to spend money frivolously impedes our finances. We could fall into debt, and this hinders our opportunities to help the impoverished or give generously to beneficial projects.
Consider the flipside:
- Choosing to build a strong marriage provides stability for our family. It also provides a positive role model for our kids when they marry.
- Choosing to care for our bodies properly means we’re able to live strong and be available to help others in need.
- Choosing to be wise financial stewards enables us to provide for ourselves and give generously to others.
When faced with a choice, stop to consider the ripple effect it will cause. Who will be impacted? And how far will that ripple effect go?
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