The following is an part 2 of an excerpt from a book I just read called “Does Your Bag Have Holes?. Read part 1 in yesterday's post. The book was sent to me by the author Cameron C. Taylor, and is an excellent read (I'll be doing a review shortly). This chapter on choices and consequences was an especially good one, and I thought I'd share it here.
Divine Law—Choice and Consequence
Each divine law creates a choice to obey or disobey. With each choice, comes a divinely appointed consequence. No amount of rationalizing or complaining will alter the consequence. If you pick up one end of a stick (choice), you also pick up the other end of the stick (consequence of that choice).
Every time we make a choice we are either obeying or disobeying a divine law. As we obey divine laws, we move to a more successful state of happiness, peace, power, freedom and prosperity. As we disobey the laws, we move to a state of sadness, weakness, bondage and misery. Each moment we are progressing toward one of these two states. This gift of choice is like fire: if properly used, it creates warmth and life; if improperly used, it can burn or even kill.
On a farm, you reap what you sow. If you plant corn, you harvest corn. You cannot plant corn and harvest watermelon. Similarly, we reap what we sow in life. Our choices are the seeds and the consequences the harvest. At times, we may attempt to choose the consequences of our choices or misunderstand what the consequence of a choice will be. We might want to eat 10,000 calories a day and not gain weight. We might want to smoke cigarettes, but not get lung cancer. We want to violate divine laws and still have freedom and prosperity. This is as foolish as a farmer planting corn and expecting to harvest watermelon. Some might also expect financial abundance but learn nothing regarding the laws of wealth. This is as silly as a farmer not planting and expecting a great harvest. Further examples can be observed in the following myths.
Myth—Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow
It puzzles me that many so called success and self-help books teach the myth that money will come if you simply do what you love. Any application of this myth to real life proves it is not true. If a person who loves to play video games plays video games all day, will the money follow? Of course not. A person can love genealogy or singing in the church choir, but that does not mean the amount in his or her bank account is going to increase.
One reason many new businesses fail is because someone decides to do what they love to do and then are forced to shut the doors because the money never follows. Liking an area of business and knowing how to operate a profitable business are two different things. A great deal of new businesses fail for two reasons: 1) The business idea is not economically feasible. Robert Noyce, a founder of Intel®, said, “A lot of things are technologically possible but only economically feasible products will become a reality.” 2) The person starting the business does not posses the necessary entrepreneurial skills required to succeed.
Simply doing what you love will not produce money. You must develop the necessary entrepreneurial skills to start and manage a business and find a way to make doing what you love economically feasible. For example, a person who loves to cook opens a restaurant. She quickly finds, however, that it takes much more than the technical skill of cooking to turn a profit. This person may make delicious food, however if not coupled with entrepreneurial, managing, and marketing skills the restaurant will most likely not last very long.
Myth—God Will Rescue Me
Following 40 days of fasting, Jesus was tempted three times by Satan. The second temptation is recorded in the New Testament as follows, “Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”2
Satan’s temptation was an appeal to man’s desire to be miraculously delivered from the consequences of an action. We tend to seek divine intervention to rescue us from consequences with little or no effort on our part. This tendency was illustrated by Ancient Greek dramatists’ use of the “deus ex machina,” meaning “God from a machine.” This was a machine in which actors portraying the gods would suddenly be lowered on the scene to save the mortal characters from the consequences of their choices.
Satan’s use of this temptation continues today and can easily be seen manifested by the student who fails to study and then prays for an “A” during the examination, or the person who violated the divine laws of health and then prays for deliverance from resulting sickness or the person who purchases an expensive plasma screen television and then prays for help to pay the rent. We also see this tendency manifested by those who have incurred larges amounts of debt and then seeks to be delivered from the bondage and obligation of repayment through bankruptcy, or those who seek deliverance from a disease of choice by taking a pill to treat the symptoms instead of changing the behavior that causes the symptoms.
We should respond to such temptations as did the Savior by saying, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”3 We must accept responsibility, which is the willingness and ability to recognize and accept the consequences of our actions.
Myth—Freedom Comes From Doing Whatever I Want
We have all heard someone describe freedom as follows, “No one can tell me what to do. I am in charge of my own life. God’s commandments are restrictive and to be free one must not be bound by the laws of God.” The laws of God are not restrictive but are a road map to joy. The volition of these laws is not freedom but bondage, pain, and misery. As taught the Savior, “. . . whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.”4 Those who know and live the commands of God enjoy freedom, joy, and prosperity. Thus, obedience to the laws of God is freedom.
The correct use of liberty—the power to choose—will result in more choices. The misuse of our liberty will result in fewer choices. Each time we make a choice we either gain more freedom as a result of our increased choices or digress toward bondage as the result of our diminished choices.
“If someone decides to rob a bank, for instance, he or she may be incarcerated under the law. That person not only lost the ability to rob banks, but is also restricted from other lawful activities in the future. A trip to the park, while lawful, is no longer an option after incarceration. The opposite is also true. If one chooses to open a bank and work hard within the boundaries of the law, they can continue that activity and will have opportunities that they did not have previously. A lawful and successful enterprise would provide funding for additional activities that the person could not afford before their choice to provide banking services.”5
This chapter can be summarized by the following words from the Bible. “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God . . . And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God.”6
We Can Choose Our Actions, but We Cannot Choose the Consequences.