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 and her entire family was spared.
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:
- Our choice to engage in an adulterous affair impacts our spouse, our kids and future generations, our friends, our church family, and our witness for Christ when our marriage falls apart.
- Our choice to not eat properly or exercise regularly may mean others have to sacrifice energy and time in order to care for us when we get sick.
- Our choice to spend money frivolously now impedes our financial situation down the road. Will we have to rely on our kids to support us when we can’t afford to support ourselves?
Consider the flipside:
- Our choice to build a strong marriage provides stability for our kids. It also provides a positive role model for their own marriages.
- Our choice to care for our bodies properly means we’re able to care for others who need help.
- Our choice to be wise financial stewards enables us to care for our own needs and also for the needs of 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?
Question: How have your choices affected others, both negatively and positively?