Getting Away with It

Getting Away with It

“Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.” Then the LORD sent a plague on the people, because they made the calf, the one that Aaron made. Exodus 32:34-35

When I first diverted opioids for my own use, I was terrified someone would find out. I laid awake at night, frantic about what would happen to me if my crime was discovered. I even prayed to God, promising that I’d never use drugs again if he would protect me from consequences. And nothing happened. I don’t think God actively shielded me from the repercussions of my behavior. He was simply allowing me to go my own way for a while. Getting away with it though, was the worst possible thing for me. Because nothing happened, and because no one found out, I was emboldened, believing I could continue to get away with diverting opioids. And so, I kept on until it became a big enough problem that something terrible eventually had to happen.

It seems something similar occurred in today’s passage. In the story – of the Israelites worshipping the golden calf – Moses discovered his people’s sin and immediately commanded that the ringleaders be put to death. Apparently not everyone who bowed down to the idol was killed though. Those who were guilty but were then spared must have felt immense relief, believing they’d gotten away without any punishment at all. God was just waiting though. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them. Why did he wait? I imagine that it was to give his people time to repent. The problem though, at least for some, was that they believed they’d gotten away with their sin and so, they felt no need to repent.

In getting away with my diversion and drug use, I thought I was avoiding consequence. The problem of course, was that I was continually damaging myself – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. There’s really no such thing as getting away with self-destructive behavior because self-destructive behavior is, by definition, destructive, even if we don’t immediately see it.

Even if no one else ever finds out about a secret addiction, it damages our relationship with God, turning us from him. He may let it to go on for a while, allowing us to go our own way. Our addictions though, grow, consuming us, and eventually we pay a terrible price. The longer it goes on, the worse the consequences will eventually be. We may be thankful when we get away with toxic behavior, but getting away with it is probably the worst thing that could happen to us.

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