Jeremiah 9:17-22 (ESV)

Thus says the Lord of hosts:

“Consider, and call for the mourning women to come;

send for the skillful women to come;

[18] let them make haste and raise a wailing over us,

that our eyes may run down with tears

and our eyelids flow with water.

[19] For a sound of wailing is heard from Zion:

‘How we are ruined!

We are utterly shamed,

because we have left the land,

because they have cast down our dwellings.’ ”

[20] Hear, O women, the word of the Lord,

and let your ear receive the word of his mouth;

teach to your daughters a lament,

and each to her neighbor a dirge.

[21] For death has come up into our windows;

it has entered our palaces,

cutting off the children from the streets

and the young men from the squares.

[22] Speak, “Thus declares the Lord:

‘The dead bodies of men shall fall

like dung upon the open field,

like sheaves after the reaper,

and none shall gather them.’ “

R.C. Sproul tells the story of a lady he was counselling regarding her adultery. In one conversation with R.C. she made the comment that what she did was her business and it wasn’t hurting anyone else so why was everyone bothering her. Sproul says that when she said that he showed her his appointment book which indicated that he had fifteen or twenty appointments with people directly resulting from her infidelity. Sin is never a private matter.

Near the end of Jeremiah 9 Jeremiah talks about death taking the children of the Israelites in the streets. Children are dying in the streets. This no doubt literally occurred when Babylon sieged the city of Jerusalem. And we can be sure that the mothers of these children cried out to God and screamed “Why are you doing this to us!?” Sin always effects others. The death of these children was not God’s fault. God had warned them of the consequences of their sin and they refused to believe it. He granted them many opportunities to repent but they chose rather to sin. Now that the time of reckoning has come they are paying a heavy price . And God gets the blame.

Our sins always, always, always have consequences beyond us. It will always hurt others. Count on it. Achan’s sin cost his whole family their lives. It cost the nation of Israel the lives of many soldiers who fought to take the city of Ai. David’s sin hurt a whole nation. My neglect of my children will not bring them closer to God. My TV habits will not make them love God more. My temper and aloofness will not make them warm and friendly. Dear reader, do not think that your sin is a private matter. It is not. Even if no one ever finds out about it it will hurt others. It cannot do otherwise.

Do not allow yourself to come to the end of your life and be in regret for the way you wasted your life or did not teach the Scriptures to your children. Do not allow them to be slain in the streets. You can prevent it from happening. Aim for God and while you are pushing toward Him take your children along. They will follow you there just as they follow you to the places of sin and where God is not. Do not allow yourself to get to the point where you find yourself asking God why He is allowing these things to happen to you. It may be that the answer will be that it is the fruit of your own sin. He will forgive you and He will save you. But there are better ways to learn lessons than that.

Read Jeremiah and learn from their mistakes, not your own.