California Farmer 245:6 (Oct. 16, 1976), p. 33.
I am told by a reliable authority that, on a major urban freeway, the acts of a driver have far-reaching effects. Thus, if at a particular spot on a freeway, drivers in any lane, or all lanes, brake their car at a particular moment, a long chain reaction sets in. For at least an hour, and sometimes as much as two hours, all cars reaching that approximate point during the rush hour will be braking their cars. A single action sets up a chain of consequences and reactions which last long after the braking driver has passed.
This kind of chain of consequences is even more true in the world of ideas. Wherever someone throws out an idea which runs counter to God’s purposes, a long chain of reactions and consequences follows. Our Lord had this in mind when He declares, “[W]hoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:6). We do not live in a world without people. What we are and what we do has an impact on the world around us. We can set up a variety of consequences by our actions. Our unwillingness to make a stand conveys itself to others, and we become a millstone of impediment to them. Again, our false or evil decisions, words, and actions carry an impact on our world which adds to the evil we compromise with.
On the other hand, to be a man of faith and obedience to the Lord sets up a chain of reactions also, a very healthy one. Several years ago, I met a man in my travels who was deeply indebted for his faith and life to a man he had never met. The first man had made an impact on the life of a second man, who had influenced a third, and so on across the country. Quite accidentally, they learned of the start of their new life, and it made them strongly aware of the chain of consequences in every man’s actions.
No man can live unto himself. As John Donne long ago observed, no man is an island. Every man is a part of a community of life, and his thoughts, words, and actions have consequences in his life and the lives of others.
The question is this: will your consequences bring you a reward or a millstone around your neck? Remember, our Lord says, “[E]very idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matt. 12:36).