Have you ever noticed how one choice or action can have a ripple effect on our life for months or years to come? Not just a single intended result, but a chain reaction that impacts us in ways we could not or did not imagine. These can take the form of secondary benefits or unintended consequences, depending on how everything turns out. Let me explain what I mean.
We often decide to do something with a goal and prize in mind. Why work overtime for the next six months when no one is making us? Perhaps it is because we need to come up with an extra three thousand dollars (the goal) for a down payment on a new car (the prize).
While we have a specific goal and prize in mind, our decision to work overtime may impact our lives in other ways. On the up side (secondary benefits), you might impress your boss and get a promotion. On the down side (unintended consequences), your daughter could make it to the state basketball championship and it happens to fall on a weekend you have to work.
All of us have experience positive and negative results due to our decisions. Some choices are reasonable and understandable, but may not turn out well. There is not much we can do when this happen except to accept our medicine. Sadly, some people do evil in the name of good because they think it is a “worthy” cause. Take the two daughters of Lot; they used alcohol to seduce their father because there was no seed to preserve his lineage. (Genesis. 19:31-38) As asinine as it was, they thought they were doing right.
There is another point I want to make about the ripple effect of our choices and actions. While we may not foresee all of the possible
outcomes, we still should be cognizant of “cause and effect”. The truth is some behavior strengthens our chance for good results while others are filled with danger. Does it not make more since to just stay away from risky conduct?
Proverbs 22:3 – The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.
For example, drinking and driving increases the possibility of an accident. And even though no one drinks and drives to have an accident, it can become an unintended consequence. Should people know better than to put themselves in that position? Absolutely! In fact, because of the inherent dangers of alcohol, everyone should know better than to take the first drink, ever.
Proverbs 20:1 – Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.
How can anyone know the first drink will result in them one day drinking too much, having an accident, and killing someone? They can’t, but they should know it is possible just based on widely available and known information. Thousands of people are killed every year by alcohol-impaired drivers. In addition, people have committed murder under its influence. I am sure none of them took their first drink thinking this is going to lead me to killing someone.
Proverbs 4:17 – For they eat the bread of wickedness, And drink the wine of violence.
Nothing good happens by taking the first social drink that cannot be enjoyed without doing so. You drink to party with your friends, but can’t you have a good time with your friends without drinking? If not, then it is a pretty shallow friendship.
Proverbs 23:29-30 – Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? (30) Those who linger long at the wine, Those who go in search of mixed wine.
You drink because “everyone” is doing it and you want to fit in. According to article from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, dated October 21, 2013, “A new survey of high school students shows that three out of four (77 percent) don’t drink alcohol.” No one fits in with everyone, so perhaps you would be better served to try and fit in with those who don’t drink.
2 Corinthians 6:14 – Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?
Through your teenage years you never drank, but now you are in the adult world of wheeling and dealing. Business deals are made over cocktails. Company morale is boosted at company parties where alcohol is served. If you want to get ahead, there is no better way than to socialize with your boss after work at the local pub or bar. Any of these scenarios may seem like a good time to start drinking, but they are not. Many a person has ruined his life by trying to get ahead.
1 Peter 4:3 – For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles–when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.
What if you get in good with your boss and next year he wants to put you in charge of the New Year’s Eve party. It could be a convention or conference your company is hosting or a just a Saturday outing for a few customers that your boss wants you to take care of. You have been to these before, and maybe even had a drink or two, but now you are in charge. What are you going to do? How far will you go? It simply does not pay to try and get ahead by taking that first drink.
Isaiah 28:1 – Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower which is at the head of the verdant valleys, to those who are overcome with wine!