Ignoring the Warnings

Ignoring the Warnings

For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?  Hebrews 2:2-3

Apparently, there was once a time when hospitals had lounges where physicians could congregate to smoke. Then, as it became clear that smoking was detrimental to one’s health, the smoking lounge went away. Today, almost everyone accepts that smoking is terribly unhealthy. It’s written right there on the packaging: Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, and May Complicate Pregnancy.

Yet, I have a lot of patients who still smoke. It’s not that they don’t know it’s bad for them. Yeah, yeah, I know I should quit. No one thinks smoking is healthy. Why smoke then? Smokers smoke because it does something for them right now. It’s a pleasurable behavior that’s been reinforced so many times that it’s an addiction. They know that one day they’ll pay, but one day seems so far off and now is right here. The desire for immediate gratification overrides the long-term consequences because the future seems so distant and unimportant in the present.

I’m picking on smokers, but this is a life problem for me. I want what I want right now and so, I ignore the price I’ll pay one day. This kind of impulsive behavior led to my drug addiction. It’s the kind of behavior that still keeps me overweight. I know that chocolate and peanut butter aren’t good for me and that I’ll pay tomorrow, but right now, I’m hungry. Despite the warnings, I still often charge ahead, pursuing whatever I desire.

Today’s passage provides the warning that the Surgeon General could put on the Bible. In it, the writer of Hebrews rhetorically asked how we’ll escape disaster if we ignore the salvation offered by God. Later, the same writer reveals the future of those who ignore this warning. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned (Hebrews 6:7-8)

I know this to be true experientially and it’s something I tell others who’re struggling with addiction. My way leads to misery, death, and disaster. God’s way leads to life, joy, and peace. This isn’t simply a promise of reward in the afterlife. This is a warning for life right now. My way is disaster. If I want to know the life for which I was made, then I must daily abandon my way to follow God’s.

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