There are acts done in the spur of the moment, there are acts done ‘without thinking’, there are accidents, and then there is premeditation. This last one is the strongest judge of a person’s character.
Our text today speaks of plans for evil but the same criteria listed above can also be used in plans for good. There are those whose only plans are for evil and there are those whose only plans are for good. The ones whose only plans are for evil are called “scoffers.” The evil that they plan reaches beyond their own lives. They delight in enticing others to do evil too. This is why God said they are an “abomination.” They serve NO useful purpose for the human race. They bring death, destruction, chaos, and confusion wherever they go. And I have no doubt that they make use of ALL of the above driving forces for acts.
A ‘spur of the moment’ act is one that is done in response to the environment. Standing in line at the grocery store while hungry, surrounded by snacks, the person reaches out and puts one (or more) into the basket for purchase. Another example of this kind of act keeps us from danger. Ducking for cover when you hear gunshots is done in response to the threat presented. Those who have lived in an area peppered with violence may do this so often that they do it without thinking.
Doing something ‘without thinking’ means that the act is so common that we perform it without giving it much if any attention. The ‘duck and cover’ action from above becomes second nature to some, but not all people. The ‘without thinking’ act is one that most drivers, if they are being honest, would raise their hand as having engaged in. My mom jokes about it saying, “The car knew where we were going.” This can be the experience of finding yourself at a destination you frequent on a regular basis, without remembering the trip, or even planning for that destination. Driving a car becomes so natural to you that you don’t even attend to that part of the journey. You do what you always did and you get what you always got. ‘Automatic pilot’. It is a habit and requires little thought. It actually requires MORE thought to step away from the actions involved in a habit. I found myself on the freeway entrance ramp before I remembered that the place I was intending to go to was in town, not down the freeway. I actually backed down the ramp because it was 12 miles to the next exit before I could turn around. My appointment was in 5 minutes.
Our next example is one that is overused by many people. A ‘true’ accident is something that occurs outside of a person’s control. A brick falling from the sky, tripping over a rug, a tire blowing out on a car are all accidents. We all encounter accidents in our lives. Some people try and claim that their actions were ‘accidents’ when they actually fit into one of the earlier examples. Running out of gas because you didn’t notice the gas gage is an example of this. The one could have been prevented with just a little bit of thought and attention. Running out of gas is a careless habit of expecting others to monitor the gages and deal with the needs of the car was not an accident.
The last category is by far the one we use the most. It can be an act as simple as putting on your shoes (or slippers) before taking your first step in the morning. It can be as mundane as creating a shopping list. And it can be as complex as planning a trip, or in our author’s direction as complex as planning a murder. When you put thought into your actions, you consider the possible outcomes, the consequences, the rewards, and the steps needed to reach your desired conclusion. Often people try and skip over the part about considering the consequences. And this may result in an ‘accident’ in the lives of other people.
Our text speaks of evil, so let’s focus on identifying how these factors would be used in the performance of evil. I have a feeling that the first act of evil is not entered into with premeditation. It is most likely an accident. A person accidentally hears others speaking of how much money can be made by selling drugs. A spur of the moment action occurs where he begins to imagine what he would get and how he would go about making this same kind of money. Then the premeditation phase begins. Thought is put into finding the right partners, learning how the task is done, considering the consequences (if caught), weighing the risk vs. reward, and finally stepping out into that new activity. After a while this pattern of selling drugs becomes comfortable. Because of the need to always be on guard against discovery, the actual selling transactions seldom occur ‘without thinking’ but they become a normal pattern for this person’s life. What may become a habit though is the expectation that they will always be doing this. They give no conscious thought to the consequences. They expect established ‘customers’ to frequent them. They even begin to expect/establish a schedule for their chosen ‘trade’. They go about their day on ‘automatic pilot’ until something happens to throw their system into chaos.
If you stop to think about our example, you might find that the ‘accident’ in this person’s life was not an ‘accident’ in the other’s. The other could have purposefully chosen to speak within the hearing of our person. It could have been premeditated by the other because he knew of our person’s needs.
It is a CHOICE which path to take after an ‘accident’ in your life. Our person could have chosen to walk away, to notify the police, or to join in the activity. He made the choice and will be forever changed by that choice. He CAN make a different choice later on but it will be harder than continuing on his current path.
Our choices matter. We cannot predict or even fully prepare for all that may happen in our lives but we can prepare our character. A person who has lived their life seeking good will not be as easily swayed to commit evil if/when the opportunity arises. Make no mistake, we ALL face choices to either follow evil or good. Our choices have lasting impact. God is very displeased with the ones who “plan” to do evil. THIS is definitely sin. God can and will forgive a person of their sins when they choose to leave the pattern of evil they have established. He does NOT forgive a person who still tries to hang onto that sin.
Father God, guide my choices every day. Help me clearly see when I’m headed for the wrong road. Don’t let me go about life on ‘auto pilot’. Let me fully consider the consequences of the choices I make. Be my ‘Compass’ in ALL decisions. Let me be like Jesus’ dedicated to good, even when it stirred up others who were engaged in evil.