No More Second Chances

No More Second Chances


The rich man also died and was buried . . . Luke 16:22

The addict quickly learns behavioral patterns that work out to the benefit of his drug use. In my own addiction, I learned that people were pretty forgiving if I made a show at attempting recovery. In my first two relapses, there were few significant consequences and life went back to normal soon after I appeared to turn things around. I kept my job and my marriage, and I began to think that second chances were easy to come by.

I was however, mistaken. Second or third chances didn’t necessarily mean fourth and fifth chances. Eventually, those affected by my addiction realized they were being taken advantage of and that I wasn’t really changing. I pushed grace too far and I found, much to my dismay, that boundaries did indeed exist.

This is, to me, the lesson of today’s passage. In the story, Jesus told of a rich man who lived only for himself, indifferent to the suffering of a poor man named Lazarus. Both men died, with the rich man going to Hades, and Lazarus going to a place of comfort. In torment, the rich man could apparently see Lazarus in paradise with Abraham and was able to call out, asking for relief from his anguish.

Abraham said no, reminding the rich man that he had his chances in life. In the afterlife though, the past was written and there was no changing destinies. He was in hell and in hell he would stay. In life, he had opportunity to repent but refused. The time for second chances was over.

God is forgiving, abounding in love, grace, and mercy. He does allow us though, to find the consequences of our destructive behavior. We often think forgiveness means that God should deliver us from consequence. We can though, if we refuse repentance, break things beyond repair in this life. If we refuse repentance long enough, we will exhaust our opportunity for second chances and our decision will eventually be made permanent in the afterlife.

We do not earn God’s love, but how we live matters. If we truly have faith in God, we will daily make a genuine effort to abandon our way to live as he asks, loving him and loving those around us. If we continually refuse to do so, we will eventually run out of second chances.

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