Cain & Abel • Devotion #6: The Effects of Sin on Others
“How did I get here?” With seven dollars in my pocket, two duffel bags, and the paranoia of a man on the run, I sat on a Greyhound bus. Rewind four years, I was 16 and on my own. I moved to Missouri in search of a new area and freedom. Freedom is not what I found. Being grounded to nothing, I became shackled to everything. In my search for the ultimate freedom, I became a slave to the fickle and ever-changing desires of my own heart. Jeremiah 17:9 (KJV) describes it, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: Who can know it?” From within my haze, thoughts, and feelings of remorse continued to assault me. The question persisted, “How did I get here?” The answer can be found in the question. I got here because of me, because of me lying, manipulating, stealing, and the many other selfish things that I did.
I did not do these things to hurt those who hurt me. I did them because I always wanted the focus on me. My continued attempt to help myself left me lonely, bitter, and full of regret. But more importantly, how did it leave those who were on the receiving end of my wickedness? In my mess, I hurt my best friend, a man I had been friends with since third grade. I hurt him in many ways. I hurt him by lying. Just as Jacob hurt Esau by coming with deception, lying to receive the birthright from their father, I hurt Austin. As I hurt my brother, the very same things we see in the book of Genesis begin to echo into my own life. Distrust breeds distaste, and distaste breeds anger, and unchecked anger leads to the deterioration or dissolvent of the relationship.
Ecclesiastes 1:9 (KJV) says, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”
Throughout the Bible and history as a whole, we see things repeat themselves. From the family feud of Cain and Abel to the lust of David after another man’s wife, we see sin destroy other people. It can be heard through the struggle the Apostle Paul talks about in saying, “That which I would not, I do, but that which I would, I do not.” It highlighted his humanity and the struggle that all Christians have. There is a struggle between the love we have for God and the sin that dwells within us. So in my actions, I hurt him, but I also hurt him in my lack of action.
Knowing the truth, I made little effort to communicate. It was due to my embarrassment and shame. I was ashamed of my infidelity to the Lord of hosts and to the life I knew He had planned for me. It is similar to Solomon’s poor example and lack of instruction that left Rehoboam ill-equipped and weak ultimately resulting in the division of the kingdom into two groups. One group was cleaving to the laws of God, and another whose heart is after the things of the nations around them. This is parallel to the life of anyone who has the Spirit of God in them in that you must choose who you will serve.
1 Kings 18:21 (KJV) says, “How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” Just as when the people are confronted with their faults, they were speechless. I experienced that as I reflected on the hurt and havoc I had wreaked in the lives of so many lost souls. But that is not the end.
A verse that has helped me through my regrets and moving past my folly is found in the book of Jeremiah. The first verse of chapter three (KJV) says, “They say, if a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again?… But thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD.” Now, in conclusion, I pose the following questions to you the reader.
Are you where you thought you would be in life? Why or why not?
Finally, are you halting between two opinions?
The goodness of God leads us to repentance as explained in the second chapter of the Book of Romans.