“CBS Radio Mystery Theater” once presented the story of a prosperous and respected college professor. He was married and the father of two children about to enter college, and he lived in an upscale, wooded, suburban neighborhood. To others, he seemed to “have it all.” Inside, however, he felt cheated, conspired against, and held back by superiors who did not realize his value to the university. He especially believed he was underpaid for his many contributions to the university’s reputation.
In emotional turmoil one day, he decided to leave the office early, go home, and think things through. Upon arriving home and discovering that his wife had gone shopping, he left his car in the garage and started to stroll through the neighborhood to a nearby wood. Before he left the house, though, he took the garbage to the curb because his wife had failed to take it out and the refuse truck was in the neighborhood.
Unknown to him, in another part of town at the same time, a bank had been robbed. The thieves made their escape with the loot, but the police were in hot pursuit. They were so close that the thieves decided they should get rid of the stolen goods. Pulling into the professor’s neighborhood, the thieves deposited the money bag in his neighbor’s garbage container. From his hidden position in the woods, the professor watched the thieves speed away. But before long, his curiosity drove him to inspect the contents of the mysterious bag. He casually retrieved the bag and took it inside.
When he opened it, he discovered $80,000 in cash! The perfect crime! he thought. Now I have the money I deserve! And nobody is hurt—the bank’s money is insured, isn’t it? The thieves dumped the money into the neighbor’s garbage, so if they get caught and confess, the focus will be on the neighbors, not me. If the police question me, I can just conveniently remember it was garbage collection day.
The author of the radio drama understood these principles. Before the story concluded, the professor’s wife had been murdered and his best friend wounded. His own mind snapped from the stress of the ordeal. His children, burdened with a name stained by the crime, had to go on with their lives without their parents and without a college education.
What Jesus said and the radio program dramatized is that the effects of our sins will eventually show. This process contains the power to reach out and multiply its potential for damage by involving others who may be innocent of the sin that began it.
We do not sin in a vacuum; no man is an island for good or bad. God wants to cover sin, but if no other way will produce repentance, He will bring it out into the full light for all to see. We are living organisms, interacting with and having an impact upon other living organisms. Why are we so indifferent to the effects of our behavior? Should not God’s Spirit lead us to strive to produce positive fruits? Could we be grieving His Spirit by resisting its prodding?