Health & Wellbeing

Spiritual Matters by Rev Chris Sparks

Consequences or Rewards?

What a naughty dog! She had developed the habit of pulling her owner’s washing off the clothesline and scattering it all over the yard. So, according to the Reader’s Digest, her owner put a white tea-towel on the line and waited. Each time the dog pulled it off, she was scolded. After two weeks the dog no longer touched the towel. Satisfied that the habit had been broken, the dog-owner hung out a large wash and left the house to do some shopping. When she returned, every one of the clean clothes that had been hung on the line were scattered throughout the yard. Except one! Still on the line was the white kitchen towel!

Living with the consequences of our actions, or the actions of others, can be quite challenging – and at times, painful and costly. We don’t always anticipate or factor in the dangers. And even when it is possible to forecast that things could go wrong, we may ignore the warning signs – or worse, just not care enough to act to mitigate potential harm. Like the pig, eating his fill of acorns under an oak tree one day. When his belly was full, he began rooting around under the tree, exposing the roots. From its perch on a branch overhead, a crow called out: “You shouldn’t do that! If you lay bare the roots of the tree, it could wither and die”. To this the pig retorted: “Let it die. Who cares as long as there are acorns!”

Every day we face the consequences of our actions – and the actions of others. This stark truth is particularly visible in these Covid-afflicted times. Careless attitudes by individuals can (and have) shut down communities everywhere – causing untold problems! People in our cities, towns and regional areas pay the price – locked down – watching their businesses, jobs and income evaporate before their eyes. Clearly, the consequences of irresponsibility can not only impact our own lives, but the lives of many others.
On the other side of the ledger one could list responsibility or reward as an outcome of a life well-lived and decisions wisely made. And don’t we love to be rewarded? Recognition and praise are treasured. That’s why the minister, having died and gone to heaven was a little miffed when he noticed a Sydney cab driver enjoying more recognition and rewards than himself in that special place. So, he took his grievance straight to St Peter.
“Yes,” said the great man, “you served your congregations well. But our policy is to reward results. What happened when you preached?” Ruefully the minister admitted that some of his congregation went to sleep. “Exactly,” said St Peter. “But when this man drove his cab around Sydney, not only were his passengers wide awake, they always prayed – fervently!”
The issue of consequences inevitably carries negative connotations. But the opposite is true when we speak of lives lived wisely and responsibly under the Lordship of Christ. To pay close attention to – and nurture – our relationship with Jesus, is ultimate wisdom, and our God-given responsibility. Embracing God’s love and living in accord with his will and purpose results in enriched lives – for both ourselves and those around us.
But wait; there’s more! As a natural spin-off, we will also find ourselves in line to enjoy the rich rewards and promises that God has foreshadowed for those he recognizes as his children.
Consequences? Or rewards? It is our choice!