One of the many lessons the Garden of Eden teaches us is seemingly small, inconsequential choices can be anything but small and inconsequential, and can have enormous and far-reaching good and evil consequences.
Adam and Eve thought they would be like God, having his knowledge of good and evil. At least that's what the serpent said would happen. They didn't realize their small bite out of an apple would have far-reaching negative consequences.
If Adam and Eve had a mental camera with a zoom lens, and could zoom out or zoom in to see the consequences and what would happen, would they have made the same choice?
Every Choice Can Help or Hurt Us
One of the aspects of God's omnipotence and omniscience is his knowing every choice you and I will make, and knowing the consequences of each choice, for us, others around us, and the world.
The reality is, every choice we make, big and small, conscious and unconscious, has consequences. Every choice we make either helps us or hurts us, others, and the world.
When we look at our lives, we think in linear terms. We see our past behind us and our future ahead of us. We think of time in terms of our lifetime,
Not dwelling on the past, but appreciating how our choices and the choices of others we knew and even didn't know, are what made us who we are. It's like the past wraps up over us and the future waits to be unfolded.
When we zoom in, we see the present details of making the choice. When we zoom out, we see the consequences that could occur. In one sense, mindfulness means being present in the moment. In another sense, mindfulness should include being aware of the wider context of the moment.
Decisions Made on Snapshots
We are more interested in snapshots in time, rather than videos, close-ups rather than the broader picture. Decisions and choices at all levels, personal, professional, and political, are often based on snapshots.
We fool ourselves when we tell ourselves our choices, regardless of how big or small they may be, will not affect anything.
We are more than what the five senses tell us. More than our thoughts we think. More than the emotions we feel. We are more than the sum of our parts. We are our past and our future at once. You and I are an internal presence as well as an external presence.
One of the great ironies of living in the age of advanced communications, the internet, and other technologies, is that as we become more understanding of and transparent to ourselves and others, we become more invisible and alienated from who we really are, and who God made us to be. We become less interested in consequences.
I believe one of the greatest challenges we face is to remember seemingly small, inconsequential choices can be anything but small and inconsequential, and can have enormous and far-reaching consequences, good and evil.
This is especially important to remember when we take a bite of an apple God has told us to avoid.
In God's Words
You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:4-5)
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. (Galatians 6:7)
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)
In the Words of Others
“We are free to choose our paths, but we can't choose the consequences that come with them.” Sean Covey
“There are in nature neither rewards nor punishments — there are consequences.” Robert G. Ingersoll
“The wrong we have done, thought, or intended will wreak its vengeance on our souls.” Carl Jung
In Your Words
Do you ever take the time, even a brief second to two, to consider the potential consequences of an action before you take it? If you haven't, consider doing so in the future, especially with major decisions.
Recall an occasion when you made a decision, acted on it, and were surprised by the consequences that followed. How do you feel about your decision now?
How involved is God involved the decision-making process you follow before acting, especially major decisions? If he isn't, why not?