“I was driven to prostitution.”
“There was no option but to steal.”
“I had no choice. It was him or me.”
“It was deal drugs or let my babies starve to death.”
“I didn’t want to treat her like that, but she made me angry.”
All these and more are common reasons for the criminal and destructive ways in which we destroy ourselves, our families and our communities. People are convinced that they must do things that break the law and break the lives of those around them. Like a drunk who believes that he “fell off the wagon” because he lost his job, or got a job, lost his money or found some money, because his favourite team lost, or won, or because . . .
Well, no. He drinks because he has alcoholism.
And isn’t it true that we do crime or treat people badly or use people for our personal gain because we have a corrupt soul? We don’t have to do it. It's not because of what they did. It's because of who we are. We’d rather do the wrong thing than risk doing the right thing. Do you really believe that everyone who is out of work “has” to turn to crime? Surely not. Do you really believe that one’s only option is to take the life of another person in order to find freedom? What we are saying when we do wrong is that we’d rather take part in this destructive behaviour because that is who we've become. Our actions betray our hearts.
One of the most amazing things about putting Jesus first in one’s life is the discovery that pain and suffering and loss no longer have the power to rule out or negate the presence of joy and peace. One of the most amazing things about putting Jesus first in one’s life is the discovery that suffering and loss no longer have the ability to drive us to do wrong things. Putting Jesus first in one’s life means that the dreaded “what if” no longer controls us.
There is a saying that I heard long ago, “Maturity is when you no longer have to do what you want to do.” Living as a friend of Jesus opens one’s eyes to the realisation that you no longer have to do wrong things in order to succeed in life. Doing good, being good, experiencing good, being immersed in the goodness of your Creator is always an option when you know beyond a shadow of doubt that you are loved by God.
When you know that you’re loved by God, you don’t have to do it.