When my friend’s dog got caught stealing chocolate cupcakes from the trash can, she knew that she was in trouble. Bailea knew that she had done something wrong, but she couldn’t have understood why my friend so upset about it. The cupcakes were in the trash; no one else was going to eat them. Why should my friend deny her something good? But Bailea didn’t realize that chocolate can be fatal to dogs. My friend wasn’t upset because Bailea had broken the rules; she was upset because Bailea could have died. We as Christians sometimes chase after things that seem appealing, even though we know that God isn’t pleased with them. We tell ourselves that the behavior is harmless and that it doesn’t impact anyone else. Although we only see the short-term appeal, God sees that it’s deadly. Never forget that “sin, when it is fully grown, leads to death” (James 1:15). We see this all throughout history: spiritual death…death of marriages, families, and friendships…death of communities, cities, and nations. God tells us “no”—not to punish us, but to bring us life (see 1 John 5:3; Deuteronomy 32:47; Leviticus 18:5). Moses challenged the Israelites this way: I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20). Bailea, by the way, was fine. My friend got there in time. Still, Bailea would have been better off had she left the cupcakes alone. It’s the same with us. God can rescue us from sin’s curse of death, but we’re so much better off avoiding evil and walking in obedience from the beginning.
Otis A. Fortenberry