I just read an interesting study about self-destructive behavior. One of the items that caught my attention was this statement: “Humans have more self-destructive behaviors than any other creature.” It’s not that animals don’t have some behaviors that ultimately do more damage than good, to themselves, it’s just that they aren’t aware of the damage being done. A dog may not realize the long-term impact of chewing on his rear-end because of a battle with fleas, so even though it’s considered “self-destructive” (the dog is doing the damage to himself), it’s explainable.
Humans, however, unlike animals, have a capacity to grasp the severity (or potential severity) of a behavior, yet continue to self-destruct. We’ve seen the long-term impact of drug use and abuse on others, yet hundreds of thousands of people hit the streets every day looking for another fix. They choose to destroy themselves, knowing that they are destroying themselves, unlike the dog who doesn’t know the negative impact of his actions.
Here is a top-list ten from the online article (not necessarily listed in any order):
- Craving violence
- Clinging to bad habits
- Body abuse (nip, tuck, tattoos, piercings etc...)
- Stressing out
If you’re going to live the Overboard Life, you’ve got to call sin, “sin” -- not just “destructive behavior.” When we look at that top-10 list we see a huge list of sins. What jumps off this list to me is how subtle some of these sins are. Gossip is one of those behaviors we tend to accept because it’s has become a part of all of our conversations. Lying is ok as long as we only tell, “little white lies” and it’s only cheating if you get caught, right?
The article wasn’t written from a biblical stand point, so the author isn’t trying to bring a spiritual tone to the issue. However, he still points out that there is a scientific connection between self-destructive behavior and happiness. Those who make the top-10 bad-behaviors (sins!) habits, are less happy people.
This shouldn’t be a surprise to those wishing to please God by living the Overboard Life. It is impossible to please God while willfully choosing to live in sin. My daughter gave me a perfect example of my own shortcomings a few weeks ago. We had one of those mornings in getting ready for school for one day. My middle child was experiencing frustration with everything I said that morning. Then when I reminded it her to empty the dishwasher (her chore for the week), she told me “No!” When I asked her to pick up her room, she said, “No!” We battled, she experienced some consequences to her behavior and when we left, she was mad, I was made, and there wasn’t a whole lot of conversation between us on the way to school.
But it was Friday, and on Fridays, Traci and I volunteer in the kids’ classrooms to grade all the homework from the week. My first stop is BJ’s classroom, so I popped in to grab the big homework pile and jump into my work. What happened? As soon as I walked into class, BJ jumps up, runs to the door, says, “Daaaaaaaaaddddeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyy!” and proceeds to give me a big hug and several kisses. It was like the last 75 minutes hadn’t happened.
When I left, she gave me two more kisses and another hug, and was suddenly as sweet as sunshine. I was actually ticked, and when she came home that day, we had a little chit-chat about what happened. I was trying to be genuinely thankful for her display of affection at school, but that’s hard to do when we had the tough morning we had. You see, in regards to her relationship to me, she had been living in disobedience all morning , then suddenly she wants to cover me with hugs and kisses at school. We had yet to resolve the issues pertaining to her morning actions, so her affection seems shallow and empty. And it was.
But how often do we do the same thing with God? We stay up late Saturday night, maybe watching something full of moral filth, or hanging out with friends in a context that is less-than-pleasing to God, or like me and Traci before we were married, spending time with a boyfriend or girlfriend in a way that dishonors God’s plans for relationships -- but then go to church on Sunday and want to worship God! We sing the right words, we greet the right people, we listen to the sermon and we even talk about it on the way home from church. But the problem is -- we haven’t taken care of the behavior(s) before Sunday to make Sunday a true worship experience.
When you and I intentionally choose a path of sin, living out the the top-10, self-destructive habits (or creating our own top-10!) we have no business going back to God to engage in conversation or worship, or to claim we are living the Overboard life. We must regularly clean the slate with God before we try to worship Him in our living. And it’s not that God demands perfection, but when we are aware of our sin, we must confess it to Him and receive His forgiveness. This will make our worship, worthwhile.
I love my kids, and am so thankful for the days I see a behavior in them that is a reflection of my own relationship to God. Often it’s a humbling, but necessary, part of my own growth as I keep trying to grab the sides of the boat, to leave the comfort of the boat, and live out on the water where Jesus is building His Kingdom.
Go ahead and take the plunge -- life is better on the water!