"Hey, Thea--you need to slow down. If you don't, you're going to be out a lot of money in a few moments."
I wish someone had been there to warn me. If someone had, I guarantee I would not have gotten that speeding ticket last week.
Usually if someone sees a police officer, they'll flash their lights at oncoming cars to give a heads-up to slow down. And at that point, if you still don't slow down and end up getting a ticket, you kind of asked for it! But people usually do slow down when they get a warning.
Why then does this logic not translate to other areas of life? Perhaps because we don't consider the cost on the front end.
This week in our small group we watched Andy Stanley's teaching on managing our appetites, and how our inability to manage our appetites can cost us dearly. He taught the story of when Esau traded his birthright for a bowl of stew. Really?!? Yes, a bowl of stew. There's no way he really thought that one through, or considered the cost of that decision on the front end. What he gave up was much further reaching than his own lifetime--certainly longer lasting than that bowl of stew. But before we go thinking Esau a fool, let's at least acknowledge the ways in which we've done the same.
While I was on my way to work in such a hurry the other day, I know what I would have chosen if things had really been spelled out for me: "You can try to shave about a minute off your commute to work, but it will cost you about $100." I would have slowed down. No brainer. But I am sorry to say that I have been less able--willing, perhaps?--to count the cost on the front end of some other decisions I've made, and have had to pay the price.
And I'm not alone.
There are people all over who don't get to tuck their own kids in at night because they didn't realize on the front end that that would be one of the costs of their poor choices and selfish pursuits.
There are teenagers having sex with their boyfriends/girlfriends, never anticipating the conversations they're going to have with their future spouse about where they've been and what they've done.
There are families that deal with incredible stress because of excessive debt. They don't completely consider the loss of their financial freedom with every single swipe of the credit card, but it's coming. Perhaps it's even prevented the realization of a mom's longing to be home with her children.
What if, by any chance, we would truly weigh the cost of our decisions on the front end? I think every teen or single adult should literally sit down and write down a list of what it would cost them to have sex prior to marriage. I think every married person should literally sit down and write down a list of everything they stand to lose if they pursue a relationship with anyone other than their spouse. In these cases and in many others, I bet such an exercise would be eye-opening, to say the least.
And the Word of God gives us the warnings! About acquiring debt, about laziness, about sex outside the boundary of marriage, about gossip, about giving way to anger...the list goes on and on. Just spend a little time reading His Word, and you'll soon notice the flashing lights warning you to slow down.
And at that point, you can either heed the warnings and slow down, or keep on keeping on at the pace at which you're going.
But there's a cost to the whole "keep-on-keeping-on" thing.
Merciful God, we need You. Please give us the wisdom to carefully consider our steps, and to count the cost on the front end.