Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 67; 150, 2 Samuel 24:1-2, 10-25, Galatians 3:23-4:7, John 8:12-20
“What you want is irrelevant. What you’ve chosen is at hand.”
– Captain Spock, to Lieutenant Valeris
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
In the sixth Star Trek film (from 1991, so don’t expect spoiler warnings), Spock discovers his protégé, a young Vulcan woman named Valeris, has conspired with representatives from other worlds to murder the chancellor of the Klingon empire – all in the name of keeping the peace. When Spock insists that logic dictates she must kill him to cover her tracks, she says she doesn’t want to and the conspiracy unravels. Peace unfolds anyway.
When we commit immoral acts in the service of a greater good, real or imagined, the eventual consequences are unavoidable. Unfortunately, we aren’t always the one to pay the price.
King David decided to take a census of all the men in Judah and Israel who were fit for military service. His counselors advised against it. The text is not specific about why this was a sinful decision, but common theories speculate he put his trust in military might instead of God, that it was an issue of pride, or that it was a precursor to taxation and military conscription. David regretted it almost immediately, but that did not stop God’s punishment. David had to choose between three years of famine, three months of being pursued by foes, or three days of pestilence (plague). He begged God not to let other people suffer for his sins, but 70,000 people died of plague.
Are we likely to make decisions resulting in the unintended deaths of tens of thousands? Not most of us. But no decision is made in a vacuum. Every day we have the opportunity to make multiple decisions – from what we buy to how we speak to who we include – which affect people’s lives for better or worse. When we come face to face with the results our poor choices in the form of violence, discord, neglect, or harm, regret can’t change anything.
The choices we make now determine the choices available to us – and others – in the future. When making them, will we trust ourselves or God?
For more on today’s passage from John, see You Don’t Know Me.
Comfort: Making good choices now helps us make better ones in the future.
Challenge: Don’t choose what is hard, or what is easy; choose what is right.
Prayer: Lord of truth and life, guide my thoughts, guide my words, guide my deeds, guide my choices. Amen.
Discussion: When have you had to face unintended consequences?
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