January 2nd

Bad Decisions and Stress

8The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, "Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac." 11The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 But God said to him, "Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also, because he is your offspring."  Genesis 21:8-13 NIV 

Abraham and Sarah’s decision to use their maidservant (Hagar) to create a family was a bad decision.  God had promised Abraham that he would make him the father of many nations.  God didn’t need their help in creating offspring, yet they tried to help him out by compromising their marriage bed with Hagar.  The consequences were played out in the ensuing years as Hagar and Sarah despised each other and as Ishmael mocked Isaac.  The strife between his family members caused Abraham great stress.   

How often do we make bad decisions that cause us to reap unpleasant consequences like stress later on?  Family problems can cause some of the most severe stress, perhaps because there our relationships can be the deepest.  Sexual sin causes deep wounds in families, especially when marital infidelity is involved.  It corrupts the emotional, physical and spiritual bond of the husband and wife, and opens the door to emotional and spiritual confusion.  Stress can easily be a product of that confusion.   

Pornography is an all too common vehicle for sexual sin these days.  Looking at porn is basically the same as having sex with someone, because we’re thinking about having sex in our minds (Matthew 5:28).  Spouses of people who look at pornography often feel violated, cheated on and unloved when their spouse looks at porn.  We regularly hear from people whose spouses are spending many hours of the day and night glued to the computer looking at porn.  As the spouses retreat into their fantasy worlds of porn, the remaining family members become angry, resentful and in some cases, vindictive.  In those homes, stress is a common intruder. 

God desires us to live in peace and harmony with our families.  He wants us to enjoy the fruits of a wonderful sex life with our spouse, free of the stress and confusion that sex sin brings.   If you have already fallen into sex sin through pornography or some other means, you can return to a place of peace in your life.  You’ll want to confess the sin involved in your bad decisions to God and ask for his forgiveness on account of the blood of Jesus Christ.  If you have offended or injured others with your sin, go to them, apologize and seek their forgiveness.  Having done that, you’ll be best prepared to begin seeking God daily and living for him.  (see Freedom Journey study) 

God is a gracious and forgiving God.  He will help you work out the consequences of your bad decisions.  He may even turn them around and use them for good.  For example, God, in his graciousness, comforted Abraham and told him not to worry about Hagar and Ishmael.  He even promised to make Ishmael into a nation for Abraham’s sake.  God didn’t give up on Abraham and he won’t give up on you!   

Questions for further thought:

Prayer:

“Heavenly Father, I praise you and thank you for the New Year ahead of me. I repent from the sins of my past bad decisions.  Please forgive me for rebelling against you through pride, fear, lust or any other forms of evil.  Please cleanse my mind with the blood of Jesus and create a clean heart in me.  Please help me work out the consequences of my actions and redeem them for your purposes.  Thank you for loving me and extending your grace to me.  I invite you to guide me in all your ways this year.  I praise you now and forever, Amen.”