What’s the Worst Thing that Could Happen?
And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Philippians 1:14
While stuck in my addiction, I knew what it would take to get sober, yet I remained completely unwilling to do it. I knew I would need to confess to my wife and to my boss. I understood that I would have to go to inpatient treatment and appear before the state medical board. I knew the mountain of misery that lay before me if I wanted to turn my life around, and because it was so terrifying, I couldn’t choose it. I was right. I did eventually have to go through all that and it was awful. Coming out the other side, I could see that it was necessary and absolutely worth it. While trapped in my addiction though, I feared the consequences of doing the right thing.
I still struggle with this. At times, I’m intimidated by what I think might happen if I do what God asks of me. When I was considering a new job, even though I knew it was the right thing, I was afraid of the reduction in pay. What if I struggle to put my kids through college? Sometimes, when I feel God tugging at me to share my faith and recovery with someone who’s struggling, I fear rejection. What if they think I’m crazy? The truth is, those are real possibilities. I did take a pay cut. Some people do think I’m weird. After obeying though, I always find that it was the right choice. Yes, sometimes doing what’s right has uncomfortable consequences, but in the end, it’s far more rewarding than choosing the wrong thing.
In today’s passage, Paul talked about how his imprisonment had emboldened other Christians. Paul had been incarcerated for spreading the gospel, which was supposed to intimidate followers of Christ. Instead, God used Paul to spread the gospel to those who guarded him, which in turn strengthened the resolve of other Christians. Paul was arrested and God still used it for good.
We often fear doing what’s right because we worry about the consequences. We’re probably right. The right choice isn’t usually the easy one and following God’s will may be uncomfortable in some way. What’s the worst thing that could happen though? The alternative – disobedience – is always worse. When making the tough decisions, sometimes we must ask what the worst thing is that could happen, and then we must be OK with that. Our job is to do what’s right, leaving the results up to God. In the end, disobedience will always be more painful than doing the right thing.