butterfly-effectWhen our oldest child was five she was playing a Disney game on Facebook where you have to develop your own animal preserve (like Farmville, but with rain forests, savannahs, etc. – a pretty cool game, actually). I helped her log in at the living room computer during my lunch break and then left for work. My wife went about the business of the house. I came back from work to discover that our sweet daughter had spent $200 on game stuff! She thought it was “game money” and didn’t realize she had been charging our account!

Humanity never really changes, do we? Even as adults we have a tendency to forget that there are real world consequences to everything we say and do. There is no bubble, no consequence-free zone. Life is made up of multiple ripple effects from human behavior.

Everything we say and do creates a new ripple that extends to the community around us and, ultimately, the world. I don’t think we take that idea seriously. I know I don’t, and I think I’m normal, so I’m guessing you don’t either! It’s easy to say or do something and then completely forget about forever. But there is no bubble around us. Our behavior produces results.

The Bible talks about it in farming terms: sowing and reaping, planting and harvesting. The Apostle Paul writes:

Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.

Paul just took the Butterfly Effect to a whole new level. It’s not just about the earthly consequences of our actions. He tells us that there are spiritual and eternal consequences! This isn’t a unique concept in Christianity. Several places in the Bible God tells us that our relationship to him is helped or hindered by our relationships and behavior with others:

–          If you want forgiveness, forgive others.

–          If you’re at worship and remember that someone has something against you make it right with him before you get right with God

–          True religion is taking care of people who cannot take provide for themselves

–          A person who hates his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen

Starting to get the idea? It’s a divine Butterfly Effect. The little things we say and do in the here and now have consequences that carry far beyond the minutes that surround our behavior. So before you act pause to think about the consequences of your action. How will this action affect me? How will it affect others? Before you speak think about the possible ripple effect of your words. Will these words build people up or cut people down? If others heard that I was saying these things would it be beneficial or detrimental?

Fortunately for us, Facebook reversed the charges our darling daughter racked up. Real life isn’t always so gracious, and our behavior can hurt or heal, build or destroy. So be careful the next time you speak and act.

You never know how far the ripples go.