That’s What You Get…

When I was seven I was running down the hallway of my house when I caught the front edge of my Donald Duck flip flop on a throw rug and pitched face first onto the floor.

While my mother let a startled “Oh no!” slip out, my father calmly looked over the top of his newspaper and said, “That’s what you get for running in the house.”

What’s interesting to me about this story isn’t that it is very exciting (I’m surprised you’re still reading) it’s that it happened to you too right? Sure you probably weren’t running in the house, and Donald Duck flip flops probably didn’t play a role in your unwitting demise, but you did something wrong, suffered the consequence, and got a “That’s what you get…” from someone else.

You got it because it’s a pretty common response to misfortune, especially when opinion says that the misfortune was self-inflicted.

While it’s true that self-inflicted misfortune is generally the natural consequence of human error, humans are great at letting the “self inflicted” part of the misfortune excuse them from feeling any sympathy or offering any grace or mercy.

It goes like this, “If you deserved what happened to you, don’t complain, and don’t expect me to feel sorry for you.”

Saturday, the sad, self-inflicted, denouement of Amy Winehouse’s 27 year run came to a close. Most of us are convinvced that her untimely demise was the end game of a well documented, public struggle with substance abuse.

Her turning up dead was not exactly surprising, the fact that she made this long was actually stunning. The majority response was something along the lines of “Well that’s what you get I guess… I hope the Olsen twins are paying attention.”

Not exactly sympathetic.

Some of you are probably wondering why there should be a sympathetic response. I’ll let Jesus explain it.

In The Gospel Of John, Jesus walks into the temple and finds a man who has been born blind. The disciples asked Jesus whether this man was blind because he sinned, or his parents had sinned?

Their desire was to determine whether not his misfortune was self-inflicted.

Jesus responded by saying that the blindness was not due to someone’s sin, but because God was about to reveal his glory.

That’s when Jesus revealed how great God was by healing the blind man.

He wasn’t interested in figuring out whether or not someone deserved the misfortune that had befallen them, he was interested in working to stop it. His statements about working in the daylight because night is coming highlight the very small amount of time some people have here on earth.

Jesus wasn’t about to sit around laying blame or trying to determine guilt when he had the opportunity to do something good. He wasn’t about to let self-infliction stand in the way of sympathy, instead he let sympathy drive him to action.

Quite different from how we operate isn’t it?

The difference between Jesus and us lies in his understanding that we are all guilty.  Because we assume that there are some innocents in life we try to stand up for them as advocates since “they deserve it”.  Jesus knows that each of us brings misfortune upon ourselves and others each day we breathe. He died for us because he loved us, not because we deserved it.

It was grace and mercy in the face of tragedy that revealed God’s glory.

While some of us experience misfortune that leads to our immediate death, the misfortune of others is a long drawn out process that takes years to consume them. The greedy, and bitter heart only appears innocent because the damage is rarely physical.

The Bible calls this misfortune and damage sin.

While it doesn’t always seem like it, all sin leads to death. Which is why Jesus didn’t let “whether or not we deserve it” determine his level of action or sympathy in regards to it.

Each of us is born with uncontrollable urges. Left unchecked and unhealed by Jesus those impulses are the seeds of our own self-destruction.

When we begin to understand that drugs and alcohol wreak the same devastation on our soul as gossip and selfishness, we will also find the desire to stop excusing ourselves from being moved to a place of sympathetic action in the lives of others. That’s when we start living and loving like Jesus did.

We live this way because we know that the only innocence available to us is the innocence that Jesus blood bought for us. His innocence not ours. That, my friends, is why we love Him.

Percieved innocence is not the motivator that love is.

If the sad life and tragic death of Amy Winehouse moves you, let it be to a place of gratefulness that your sin has not broken your ability to choose life and the abundance of grace that Jesus gives.

If it doesn’t move you at all, it’s probably time to revisit how innocent you believe yourself to be.

8 Responses to “That’s What You Get…”

  1. Sharon O July 25, 2011 at 9:29 am #

    Wow another wonderful writing and I was hoping you would do one on her. Coming from a family of addictions, and a sister who has almost died at least five times because of the disease. I do have sympathy for her life just as Micheal Jackson died an untimely ‘sick death’, Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix and even Elvis. The sin pulls deeper and deeper until the hole is deep and black and you are so right, is jealousy or gossip or lying any different? They all kill the spirit and perhaps the soul of the person. It is just that some toxins are more fatal. Thank you for challenging us one more time.

    • Jon July 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

      It’s awesome that you guys loved your sister so well. God bless you both.

  2. Jesse July 25, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    Question for you along these same lines.

    What do you do when someone continues to sin, either against you or against God? How are we supposed to react. I know that Jesus said to forgive them Seventy Seven times (really just meant as always). But how do we react to that without feeling like we are being walked all over.

    Take Ms. Winehouse, I am sure her family still loved her and forgave her for being an addict (or as Christians we would be called to), but that doesn’t mean we excuse the behavior.

    How as Christians are we supposed to forgive but not be taken advantage of, or have our lives turned upside down because of other people’s sins.

    I guess my question boils down to, yes we forgive but then what?

    • Jon July 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

      Nice thoughts bro… Sympathy moving u’s to action is never enablement. Enquirer don’t feel sympathy, they feel guilt. They let their terrible feelings move them to enable the person by giving in to them… Which then makes them feel worse. It’s the vicious cycle of abuse and enabling.

      Sympathy comes from a heart that Is broken by sin And grieved by brokenness. Sympathy always works towards deliverance. Addicts are self meditating to cover an area of brokenness that they can not or will not confront. With substances they find temporary relief and eventual numbness but never deliverance from their pain.

      Love is demonstrated when we honestly and caringly confront their wound while cutting off support that enables them to do anything other than confront the broken relationship or experience that they have suffered. Sometimes this means letting them walk away and praying for the best.

      The abuser has to want to change and that only happens when they run out of enablers.

      None of this can happen if you are operating out of guilt or anger. Love brings sympathy and sympathy offers Jesus and therapeutic counsel… Not excuses. Hope this helps!

      • Jesse July 25, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

        I just emailed you at your church email with some more specifics. Thanks for your advice.

  3. Jenny Fuller July 25, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    Awesome! This was a breath of fresh air and TRUTH! Thank you!

    • Jon July 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

      Thanks so much! Glad to be an encouragement.

  4. Sharon O July 25, 2011 at 11:23 am #

    Can I answer the question from Jesse?
    Forgiveness is hard when one is dealing with an addicted person because 9 times out of 10 they will disappoint you. My story is this: I slept by my sisters bed on a cot for 6 weeks while she was on hospice dying from liver failure and starvation because she was drinking a fifth of vodka a day, that is almost a half gallon of alchohol day in and day out. Her life was centered on ‘which’ liquor store was open and when. Addictions kills relationships. My sister was 90 pounds when we detoxed her in our family room it was an intensely horrible time of our lives but in six weeks she was down to 6 oz of vodka prescribed by her doctor. My sister survived and is alive today. The story is much more in depth. Her husband while she was on hospice died of an oxycodone and vodka overdose. Do I forgive him? yes because I loved him. Do I forgive her? YES but I also have told her, “If you ever get in this situation again, I will not be your lifeguard and save you.” I have done it once. Two times is too much to ask of my husband and I. I am sorry this is a long ‘answer’. WE FORGIVE because Christ forgives us but he also said to the woman at the well, “GO and SIN no more” so even Jesus created boundaries. The fine line is a boundary.

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