You can find the positive in ‘most anything if you try. I’ve been finding the positives in food allergies – they teach me stuff. (Who knew, right?) Giving up things like yummy-smelling “donettes” (I think they were cinnamon and ginger or something), artificial bacos (a rare thing in our house), apple crisp, literally dozens of Christmas cookies… That’s quite the lesson in self control right there. But I had a different lesson the other night, completely by accident. See, I’m now having to avoid tomatoes because they’ve started making me feel sick to my stomach. The other night we had lasagna for supper, and I was focused on picking out the noodles (because of the wheat) and totally overlooked the fact that lasagna has (surprise!) tomatoes in it. It wasn’t until about two hours later that it finally occurred to me why I wasn’t feeling that great.
Carelessness has consequences (as those sneaky tomatoes graciously reminded me), but not just carelessness regarding the food we eat. Careless words, careless actions, careless choices – they all have consequences. The Bible talks about the damage that careless words cause (quite a few verses on words in Proverbs), and also contrasts the fool, who is careless about life, with the wise or prudent, who is careful. Again and again God commands His people to be “very careful” that they obey Him.
I think that being careful must be important to Him. Maybe that’s why He lets us run into such obvious consequences to our carelessness, to remind us that it’s not worth it. It works, too. When we do things that make us uncomfortable, we remember the lesson. I’ll sure remember that lasagna has tomatoes in it from now on. But why is being careful so important to God?
I think there are several parts to the answer. One, is that God is not a God of chaos. The order of the universe from the planets in their orbits to the symbiotic relationships of the tiniest creatures are enough to tell me that He likes order. Carelessness, by very nature, eventually leads to chaos. (Take a look at my desk when I don’t bother to carefully put things away if you want proof of that one…)
Not only that, but the chaos that carelessness creates weighs us down and makes it harder for us to fulfill our greatest potential. For example, forgetting things you’re supposed to do until the last minute when you have to do them in a terrible hurry. You could have done them a lot better if you had been careful to remember. (And by the way, I just did this last night.)
Perhaps the most important reason is that it damages our character. Careless words, in a moment, can sweep away our trustworthiness at the same time as they hurt someone else. Careless choices and actions can destroy hard-earned integrity and discipline. And damage that can take only minutes to happen takes so much longer to repair again.
Something I’ve been seeing more and more in recent months is the need to be intentional about everything we do.
Luke 12:35-36 – “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks.
“Stay dressed for action” doesn’t sound haphazard or careless. In the next verse, Jesus says that blessed are those whom the Master finds awake when He comes. I don’t know about you, but at least for me staying awake late at night has to be an intentional thing. (Well, so does waking up in the first place.) Jesus told His disciples to be on guard, watch, stay awake, etc.
1 Peter 5:8 – Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Our enemy is actively intentionally looking for ways to bring us down, and carelessness on our part destroys our initial defenses against him. We can’t afford not to be sober-minded and watchful. In Ephesians 4 Paul exhorted the believers to see that they did not give any opportunity to the devil. Some versions say “do not give the devil a foothold”. I picture it as a door and he’s outside with a crowbar trying to pry the door open. When we’re careless we don’t latch the door all the way, and that leaves a crack that he can fit his crowbar into.
Be careful, be watchful, be on guard, be intentional about what you do, what you fill your mind with, what you say. The consequences of not doing so can be ugly indeed, and it’s not worth it, not in the least.
I suppose that means no more lasagna for me.