Heeding The Consequences

He who digs a pit may fall into it, and a serpent may bite him who breaks through a wall.

–Ecclesiastes 10:8

In Ecclesiastes 10, Solomon said one characteristic of a foolish person is that he refuses to heed the consequences of his actions. Look at verses 8-10: “He who digs a pit may fall into it, and a serpent may bite him who breaks through a wall. He who quarries stones may be hurt by them, and he who splits logs may be endangered by them. . . . Wisdom has the advantage of giving success.” This is simply Newton’s third law written long before Newton: for every action, there is a reaction. Our actions have consequences. But a fool continues his foolish way of life regardless of the consequences.

Years ago, I read a letter to advice columnist Ann Landers that is a perfect illustration of this truth about a fool. The person wrote, “Dear Ann Landers: I have been married to a wonderful man for 20 years. He treats me like a piece of Dresden china, and everyone says I am lucky to have him. We get along beautifully and have no major problems. Will you please tell me why I am having an affair behind his back? I cannot figure out what on earth is wrong with me. I realize that what I am doing is cheap and tacky (also dangerous), but I don’t want to stop. If we should get caught I know that I would get on my hands and knees and beg my husband to forgive me. He doesn’t deserve a cheating wife. . . . Deep down I know I am playing with dynamite. Counseling has not provided me with any answers. Please help me before I wreck several lives. (P.S. The other man is also married and has a family.)”

That is the essence of a fool: she knows she is about to destroy her life and the lives of those around her, but she chooses not to stop. That is why the antidote to foolish behavior is not more education. The fool knows what she is doing is wrong, but she chooses to continue that behavior anyway.

The fool also fails to do anything about the eternal consequences of his actions. He knows about heaven and hell, but he still refuses to do anything to change his eternal destiny. He is like the Roman procurator Felix in Acts 24. As the apostle Paul was sharing the gospel with him, Felix said, “Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you” (v. 25). He did not want to act on what Paul was telling him about sin and judgment. The fool refuses to heed both the temporary and the eternal consequences of his actions.

***

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Maxims for Maximum Living” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.

Ask Ann Landers, Chicago Tribune, September 13, 1989, https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1989-09-13-8901120494-story.html.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.

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