Unintended Consequences

Krispy Kreme Fat SignThe unexpected and unintended results of our actions

Nobody ever did, or ever will, escape the consequences of his choices. Alfred A Montapert

While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions. Stephen Covey

When we tempted to open Pandora’s Box, we should expect unintended consequences. Randall Burkhalter

  If we are equipped with normal intelligence we learn early in life we will have to face the consequences of our actions. When we are children, parents, teachers and other adults will hold us accountable for our actions. As we get older, the responsibility gets transferred to us. As an integral part of being responsible and accountable for our actions, society levies consequences against us if we fail to comply with laws, regulations and expectations.

   Sometimes we know upfront what the consequences will be when we fail to do what is required or when we do something that is prohibited. If we do not pay our taxes, we know that the IRS will eventually get around to holding us accountable and will likely cause us great pain and misery in the process. Often we know in advance the likely consequences of our unwise actions. If we are driving down the highway, drinking a cup of coffee, eating a sandwich, talking on the cell, or texting, we are “perched” and “ripe” for the unfolding of unintended consequences. It is like setting up dominos on their ends. The conditions for a chain reaction are easily created. The interjection of unexpected events, such as someone hitting their brakes, aggressively changing lanes, drifting into the wrong lane, spilling coffee, and other such variables, are only heartbeats away from causing the dominoes to start falling on each other and creating a chain event of unwanted and often disastrous events. Such situations are ripe with unintended consequences. Lives, limbs, and financial ruin may hang in the balance.

   Some of us are clumsier than others. We may trip on our own feet, walk into doors or spill our coffee into our laps. In the world in which we live today, all of us are “accidents waiting to happen”. Often we are only a split second away from losing our lives, causing loss of life to others, or great pain and suffering to ourselves as well as others. This is directly related to the potential for bad possibilities associated with unintended consequences. Negligence and carelessness, directly or indirectly, often causes very horrible unintended consequences to occur.

    Not only should we be aware of known possible consequences of our actions or lack of action; we should be aware of the possibility and severity of unknown and unintended consequences of our actions or lack of actions.

Challenge: Old adages advise looking both ways before crossing the road; not walking on thin ice, and avoiding slippery slopes. Your intelligence, experience and wisdom are supposed to keep you safe and sound as you journey through this life. “Looking before leaping”; “Not touching hot stoves”; “Not telling lies” and many more adages, proverbs, and witticisms are reminders of the unintended consequences to unwise actions.

Wisdom: It will generally be found that men who are constantly lamenting their ill luck are only reaping the consequences of their own neglect, mismanagement, and improvidence, or want of application.   Samuel Smiles


His God instructs him and teaches him the right way. Isaiah 28:26

Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds. Isaiah 3:10

To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness. Ecclesiastes 2:26

Cause and effect, unintended consequences, reaping what we sow; our actions produce results, sometimes good and sometimes bad. We do not know how all the factors, details, circumstances and unknown variables will interact and what the end results may or may not be. It is nice to know that we have God watching out for us and that he will guide and direct us. Life is tough and demanding and sometime treacherous. God is there to help us. 

Prayer: Help me to look to you for guidance, direction and for wisdom to make the best decisions possible.


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