Earlier this week, as I was traveling along Fall Creek Road, someone in a car ahead of me threw out some litter. I said to myself, “What a thoughtless jerk!”. Then, the more I thought about it, I decided it was not a thoughtless action; that person, obviously, intentionally threw out that trash and littered our Ozarks. That person’s brain sent a signal to the hand to roll down the window, pick up the fast food bag, and throw it out the window. But, it was thoughtless in that this action was not thought through. It was thoughtless in that the person’s thinking was not complete. The act of littering was not thoughtful.
How often do we not think all the way through the implications of our actions? How much “litter” do we leave behind in our lives because we are not as thoughtful as we could be, or should be? Our thoughtless actions, or less than thoughtful actions, can leave quite a mess to be cleaned up. And, just because I say thoughtless, I do not mean unintentional. Some of my most intentional actions have been the result of thoughtless choices. I intend to do A, which results in B. But, I never considered that A could also lead to C, D, and E. The unintended consequences of our actions, the results we never thought of, are what I mean as being thoughtless. Good chess players consider the consequences of their planned moves as much as five or six moves down the line. Chess masters know that if they do A then not only B will happen, but C, D, and E will likely follow. They know this because they have experienced many games of chess, and because they practice thoughtfulness every time they sit down to a chessboard. Those of us who do not think through the consequences of our actions become victims of life, thinking life conspires against us and causes more problems and more grief for us. In response to these problems, we again act impulsively, not fully considering the impacts of our actions, and start the cycle of victimhood over again.
Thinking through the likely results of our actions is the art of reasoning. Reasoning is another word for wisdom. The older I get, the more I appreciate and long for wisdom. When I was a kid, my dad used to ask me to decide what I planned to do before a given event might occur in my life (What are you going to do if someone offers you drugs?). He was asking me to use reasoning in my life. I would be much more likely to make good choices in life if I had thoughtfully and carefully considered the consequences before they occurred. The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:15-16, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” We live as imperfect people in an imperfect world, corrupted by sin. Our ability to reason helps us navigate through the rocky passages of this fallen world. While we were yet in the Garden in an unfallen state, we had little need for wisdom. God protected us inside his perfect creation. The one thing we were not protected from was the serpent, and since that time when we were cast out into the now imperfect world, we have been in quest (some of us more than others) of the gift of wisdom.
In James 1:5, we read, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” We need reasoning – wisdom – to get through this messed up world. But, much as He protected us inside the Garden, He is still offering protection in our exile. He gives us His wisdom – through His written word and through life’s experiences that we share with one another and His Spirit. It has always been His plan that we are needful of Him, and needing His gift of wisdom is just more evidence of how He has planned to provide for us.
We may not live in the perfect, beautiful Garden any longer, but the Lord still provides for us. Let us do our part by not littering His creation with our thoughtlessness.
~ Hudd ~
Kevin Huddleston is an Elder at Fellowship at Cross Creek Church in Branson, MO