Do you ever think that what you do doesn’t matter? That your personal life is completely your business and affects nobody else?
Consider the plastic bag. Seems innocent enough. A great convenience, it’s inexpensive, lightweight, strong and doesn’t get soggy if wet. But there is a growing movement to reduce the use of plastic bags. Nine states now have bans on single use disposable plastic bags, with New Jersey signing its ban into law earlier this week.
The bags seem inconsequential to most people. They come free with a purchase. So, we just use them and toss them. But they apparently don’t easily go away. Estimates of the time it takes for a plastic bag to decompose range from 300 to 1000 years.
So, once in existence, plastic bags hang around for a long time. And we’re rapidly adding more to the trash pile. Some 4 to 5 trillion plastic bags are produced each year. Americans reportedly use 380 billion plastic bags each year. Fewer than 5% are recycled. The rest clog drains, crowd landfills, pollute oceans, and leave an unsightly blot on the landscape.
Perhaps there is an interesting parallel in our thinking about sin. In America, we shy away from even using the word. What consenting adults do in privacy, for example, is considered personal and nobody is supposed to question it. But sin, like those pesky plastic bags, never goes away without consequences.
David and Bathsheba were consenting adults who had an affair. Nobody had to know, right? Should have been nobody’s business. Yet, before it was all over, a husband was killed, an innocent child died, calamity stalked David’s family, and a great king was forever shamed. (We’re still talking about his sin 3000 years later, you notice.)
And the same is true for a host of sinful actions. As the Scriptures say, “He who sows wickedness reaps trouble” (Proverbs 22:8). Even after we are forgiven, consequences may remain. Sin may seem small at the time, but, like that pesky plastic bag tossed carelessly to the wind, it may not soon go away.
Let’s be careful what we produce today. The results may linger far longer than we ever intend.