Guard Against the Unintended
Exodus 20:15; Deuteronomy 5:19
“You shall not steal.”
Those unintended consequences are our responsibility.
Read Exodus 22.6
“If fire breaks out and catches in thorns so that the stacked grain or the standing grain or the field is consumed, he who started the fire shall make full restitution.”
There is more to the prohibition against stealing than merely resisting the temptation to take what doesn’t belong to us. Implied in each negative commandment is a positive duty to show love for our neighbors. In the eighth commandment we show love to our neighbors by staying mindful of how our actions might impact the property or wellbeing of others. Economists speak of a “law of unintended consequences,” in which things come to pass as a result of certain actions, but without having been planned or foreseen. Sometimes this is good – look how the technology revolution benefited from the race to space. Sometimes it’s not so good. When our carelessness, either by word or deed, ends up causing harm to others or their property, it won’t do to insist, “I didn’t mean it.” We need to see that the demands of love go beyond even what we may have intended – or not.
What would be some examples of unintended consequences that you have witnessed in your own life? Is it possible that some of your actions today may be having negative unintended consequences? How would you know?
“In the Gates” is a devotional series on the Law of God by Rev. T.M. Moore
T. M. Moore is editor of the Worldview Church. He serves as dean of the Centurions Program of the Wilberforce Forum and principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He is the author or editor of twenty books, and has contributed chapters to four others. His essays, reviews, articles, papers, and poetry have appeared in dozens of national and international journals, and on a wide range of websites. His most recent books are The Ailbe Psalter and The Ground for Christian Ethics (Waxed Tablet).
Scripture quotations in this article are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, (c) copyright 2001,2007 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Editor’s note: The use of a translation other than the Authorised Version in an article does not constitute an endorsement in whole or in part by The Christian Observer.
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