Motivating some disengaged students is one of the most challenging tasks for educators. Given the benefits of a quality education and considering the consequences of a failed education, one might wonder why it is so difficult to motivate some young students to take advantage of the education opportunities provided to them. However, I believe that Andy Stanley provides an explanation for such behavior in this week's lesson. Unless the student has a parent holding him/her accountable for their performance, there is no immediate consequence for poor performance at school. The failed Algebra test, the poor discipline record, the undone report, and the neglected homework assignment may contribute to a poor grade or report card. However, if no one is holding the student accountable for such grade reports, there really is no immediate consequence. The student may be assigned to a tutoring session or may be placed in a slower group of students, but many students fail to even recognize such steps as negative consequences of their behavior. The same thing is true in our Christian walk. Failure to follow God's commands, a refusal to establish Him as our top priority, or an unwillingness to serve God often do not have immediate consequences. When the children of Israel questioned God and complained about His provision in the desert, there were not always immediate consequences. However, in the long run, all of the group with the exception of Joshua and Caleb died in the desert and never experienced the promised land. We learn another very important principle in this week's lesson: "Whatever a man soweth, that shall he reap." Even though many of the Children of Israel failed to experience immediate consequences, they all suffered the negative consequences of failing to serve and honor God appropriately.
This timeless law of nature applies to all areas of life; physical, intellectual, relational, and spiritual. In our spiritual life, failure to honor God and failure to submit to His direction ALWAYS generate negative consequences. There may even be some who question the validity of this law. They see others flagrantly violating the laws of God, living in sin, and still flourishing by the standards of today's society. Yet, as Andy points out in today's lesson, "Whatever a man soweth, that shall he reap" is a spiritual law that has no limits in time. It applies today just as it did for the children of Israel 2000 years ago. Therefore, irresponsible behavior WILL result in negative consequences sooner or later.
Andy shared a saying from his dad, Charles Stanley, in this week's discussion. According to his son, Charles said, "You always reap later and greater." "Later" is why we tend to give up too soon. "Later" is why we sometimes envy irresponsible people. However, when the consequences for irresponsible behavior finally do manifest themselves in our lives, they are not always commensurate with the irresponsible act. In many cases, the consequences are exponentially greater than the original failure. Andy says, "Don't expect fair! Don't expect just! And, don't blame God!" Think about it! Isn't this true?
However, this week's lesson also provides sound advice for us as we recognize our irresponsible behavior. The first piece of advice is to "own your slice of the pie--no matter how small." In other words, take responsibility for your part in the issue or conflict, no matter how small it might be. Secondly, begin to do the things you should have been doing all along. The "later-greater" principle is also true for responsible behavior. If it is true that the consequences for irresponsible behavior are often not commensurate with the original sin, it is also true that the rewards of responsible behavior over time are often magnified as well.
The unmotivated school child has not accepted this timeless law of nature and of the spiritual world. Because the child experiences no immediate consequences, he cannot see the consequences that will eventually overtake him. As Children of God, it is easy to fall into the same trap. Study the words and meaning of Galatians 6:6-9 this week. Take responsibility for your piece of the pie. Begin doing what you should have been doing all along. Our God is an awesome God. You may be surprised to see the blessings that come! See you in Sunday School!