What Goes Around Doesn't Always Come Back Around
By Lori D'Augostine
-- Okay, so who out there enjoys going to the dentist? I'll take a shot in the dark and guess maybe 5% of all viewers browsing this page. Perhaps that's because you've taken care of your teeth.
You deserve those pearly whites because after all, you've worked for them! And I haven't, so I am currently on my dentist's "Most Wanted List."
I've never been one to get away with much. Just last week, I went to the movies and tried to conceal my water bottle in my jacket. Against my good conscious, I skipped gallantly by the ticket box office and hurried to the concession booth to purchase a box of popcorn.
I was determined to make it through this second checkpoint. My mission was nearly accomplished, until my curiosity got the best of me. "How much does bottled water cost here," I couldn't help but to ask the check-out girl.
When I heard $3.50, I thought surely I was being a good steward of my money. God would never want me to spend that much. My guilt-ridden conscience was slowly dissipating.
Feeling very confident, I shifted my arm to take the popcorn from the girl when my water slipped out of my jacket and onto the floor! Caught red-handed in the act, I looked at the girl on the other side of the counter and that was all the retribution I needed to last me a lifetime.
It baffles me to this day how some can slip so idlely through the system. How do they do it? I still think about that kid in my high school class who never studied for an exam and yet received a perfect 1600 on his SAT's. For a first-born, this is the kind of stuff that makes me want to tattle-tale.
But who could I go tell? If John Newton were alive, he'd understand. He's the scientist who discovered the "Third Law of Thermodyamics" and believed that "for every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction." I have found great comfort in the Law of Retribution and practically grew up on my mom's pacifying words, "what goes around, will always come around."
That is a principle that I relish! If I work hard in school, I get good grades. If I don't take care of my teeth, I get cavities. When I sneak my bottled water into the movie theatre, I get caught. If I park in prohibited areas, my car will get towed. If I'm a good girl this year, Santa will get me a lot of presents. I get what I deserve. I reap what I sow.
And, when I see others breaking the rules (or "my" rules) and getting away with it, I get extremely frustrated. Unfortunately the reality bug bites, and I am often reminded that life isn't always so cut and dry. Even the wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon complained about the unfairness of life. He was tormented that the wicked seemed to prosper more than the righteous. Having worked very hard to build a Kingdom, he feared leaving his inheritance to those who were undeserving.
"For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune" (Ecclessiastes 2:21, NIV).
For many, what they're getting out of this life, isn't exactly proportionate to their investment. It seems to be true of nature though. "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." You throw a ball up in the air, and it comes down. When areas of low and high pressure collide, the result is a storm. That's why weather can be forecasted, because nature is more predictable. It's the Law of Probable Cause and Effect at work.
Consequences are more secure in the material universe, but when it comes to human beings, things get awefully tricky. Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do good things happen to the least likely of people? Why does God take pleasure in lifting up the lowly?
Since we're approaching Christmas, let's take Mary, the mother of Jesus for example. She was a very young girl when the angel Gabriel paid her a visit. She's not exactly my first choice in the line-up for potential mothers' of God. By appearance alone, I'd say that Elizabeth, Mary's cousin was more deserving. Elizabeth was a much older and wiser woman who was married to a Temple priest, Zechariah. Surely she could offer Jesus a whole lot more.
Yet, this was not the way God perceived the situation. His supernatural plan will often supersede our natural abilities. Perhaps Mary didn't necessarily deserve this high task and wasn't chosen because she won the "Most Godly Woman Pageant."
That is probably why she didn't get bent out of shape. Her acceptance of God's will did not depend on anything that she could give but was solely based on God's belief in her.
"My soul glorifies in the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of his servant" (Luke 1:46-47, NIV).
I want to be like Mary. I don't want to look around at others and think that they have it easier than me. There are a lot of things that I do get away with, but I don't think that I can continue to get away with this childish behavior of expecting a stamp on my hand every time I do something "good" for God.
God does reward those who earnestly seek Him, but the Bible admonishes us to not just fix our eyes on the good we are doing but the God we are serving.
Colossians 3:23-24 says,
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving" (NIV).
Our goal is not to attain the rewards of this life, like good grades and good reports from my dentist, as good as these things can be. Our ultimate reward is in Christ.
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2, NIV).
I am thankful that what goes around, doesn't always come back around to haunt us. If that were so then we'd all be slaves to kharma or victim's of "Dante's Inferno." Basically, Dante Alighieri, author of the "Divine Comedy," proposed that man is subject to different levels of Hell based on their sins on earth. Yes, I believe that God is just, but He is also merciful. Thank God that I will not be working in a movie theatre, catching water bottle bandits for all eternity.
There are consequences to our actions though. Because of our sins, what we truly deserve is to be separated from God for all eternity. Yet, God has offered a supernatural solution for this natural curse.
"We have the free gift of being accepted by God, even though we are guilty of many sins. The sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over us, but all who receive God's wonderful, gracious gift of righteousness will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:16b-17, NLT).
Christ suffered a torturous death so that we might have a victorious life. How unfair does that seem? Yet to God, it is a just retribution for our sin. God's gift of righteousness is what I am choosing to savor. I am so thankful that when God looks at us, He sees Christ in us and not our sin.
Instead of focusing on what others have or what we think we deserve this Christmas, we need to look at the gift God has given us in Christ. Whether you've been naughty or nice this year, you are worthy of Him, and He is truly all that you need.
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, I urge you to make that decision today. The 700 Club Prayer Counselors are available 24 hours a day at (800) 759-0700 or by email, waiting to hear from you.
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