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When I Had One Drink and Nothing Bad Happened

When I Had One Drink and Nothing Bad Happened

So the enemy took all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. They also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who was dwelling in Sodom, and his possessions, and went their way. Genesis 14:11-12

When I first used my medical license to divert opioids, I was terrified. I knew that if I got caught, it could mean the end of my career. At this point, you’d be right to ask, Then why would you do it? The only answer is that I was addicted, and by that point the drug was making my decisions. I was still frightened of consequences though. You know what happened? Nothing. I got what I wanted, and I got away with it, which simply reinforced the behavior. Emboldened by my apparent success, I did it again . . . and again. You know how it ended though. Eventually my addiction caught up with me as I lost my job and nearly my career. As painful as it was, I’m now thankful for those consequences. Without them, I’d never have repented and returned to God. I’d still be lost in my addiction.

I often hear some similar version of this I-can-get-away-with-it story. The sober alcoholic begins to think he can have just one drink and so, he tests his theory. He has one drink, and he stops. Nothing bad happens. Success! I can control it! Emboldened by his achievement, he repeats his one-drink plan. But his addiction isn’t gone. It’s just patient, lying in wait. Eventually the alcohol resumes control as the alcoholic learns painfully that one is never enough.

When we allow the self-destructive into our lives, there are always consequences, even if it seems we’ve gotten away with it. This is the lesson from today’s passage. In it, Lot – Abraham’s nephew – moved to Sodom, an evil city, because of the fruitful land nearby. Lot tolerated evil because it benefitted him to be there. And his plan seemed to work . . . for a while. Eventually though, living outside of God’s will and protection caught up with him as the city was sacked and Lot with all possessions were carried off by the attacking forces.

Tolerating evil in our lives always has some consequence, whether it’s obvious right now or not. Consequences are inevitable. Perhaps the most destructive sin is the one that we seem to get away with for years. At least if life falls apart, we get a chance to repent and return to God. But the sin that simply distracts us from following God, without obvious painful consequences, is the worst consequence of all as it forever robs us of the life for which we were created. Sin always has consequences, and getting-away-with-it may be the worst consequence of all.

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