I Didn’t Know How Badly This Would End
Achan . . . took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel. Joshua 7:1
The problem with instant gratification is the delayed payment. In my drug addiction, I simply pursued what I wanted right now. When life fell apart, I found that I hadn’t considered the consequences. If only I had known! I had no idea how badly this would end.
This is the lesson of Achan. After conquering Jericho, God commanded the Israelites to utterly destroy it, not allowing them to keep anything for themselves. Achan could not resist and helped himself to some gold, hiding it in his tent. The consequences were disastrous and, in the end, Achan and his family died for his greed.
The narrative does not tell us his thoughts, but I think it is fair to say that Achan did not adequately consider the consequences. He saw something he wanted it and thought he could get away with it. I deserve it. No one will know. I’m not hurting anyone.
We often indulge in our appetites with no thought for the future. When the addict takes his first hit, he does not think of the damage to his family and career. When the food addict binges, he is not able to see the diabetes, heart disease and early death approaching. Like Achan, we cry, I did not realize how badly this would end!
Only after it is too late and the disaster rains down, do we understand. We only become willing to change after we get caught because we could not consider the outcome while blinded by immediate gratification.
The lesson of Achan, is that any indulgence in a thing we know to be wrong, is destructive. We may not die for our indulgence, but we always produce some painful consequence when we pursue anything contrary to God.
Thankfully, the opposite is true as well. When we turn to God, doing whatever it takes to deny our destructive appetites, we experience a very different outcome as He grows His life, joy and peace in us.