Personal vs. Communal
“Why ask for trouble and cause your own downfall and that of Judah also?”
2 Kings 14:10
Being a king over a nation, nothing Amaziah ever did was personal in nature. “When one hair is being pulled, it moves the entire body (牽一髮而動全身,)” goes a Chinese saying. Whatever the king decided to do, the repercussions would be felt across the whole nation of Judah. The king should have had the welfare of his country in mind when he was deciding whether to start a war against the northern kingdom of Israel or not.
This can be applied to ordinary people as well. Whatever action we take may appear to be purely personal, but can quickly turn into a communal thing, carrying an effect of various degrees upon our friends and neighbors, either positive or negative, good or bad. Indeed “no man is an island” and, even it were so, every ripple its rocky shore creates may travel thousands of miles and impact all the islands and continents on its way.
We would probably refrain from doing a lot of things if we considered how our actions may negatively affect other people. The chain reactions of all our actions are a lot more far-reaching that we can ever imagine.
Thousands of Israelites would have had to quit what they were doing either on their farms or in their shops, bidding farewell to all their loved ones, and rushing to the battlefield to meet their mortal enemies, not knowing whether they would live to see their homes again. Whether they came out to be victorious or not from their military campaign, many lives would have been lost and numerous homes broken, and the number of orphans and widows in the land would have increased greatly.
Did this even enter into the king’s mind when he was contemplating whether to launch a war against the North? Most likely not. Even after he was warned sternly by the king of Israel, King Amaziah still proceeded to do what he intended to do and ultimately suffered the dire consequences of his ill-advised action.
We should think about the people we love before we decide to do anything great or small, and how our actions are going to impact them. All the sins we have ever committed are in essence selfish acts, since our only concern is to gratify the desire of our flesh. The prodigal son’s sole intention was to fulfill his own ambition and aspiration, caring nothing about how his actions would hurt his father and brother, and set a horrible example for his friends and neighbors.
So ponder about the possible consequence next time you have a drink or two, surf the internet for some illicit sites, or cheat on your wife or husband. The triple effect of our sins will kick into gear immediately after we do the acts, in which three parties are impacted - the Lord, ourselves, and the ones against whom we sin. If this mere fact does not deter us from sinning, I don’t know what will.