Unfortunately, it is not unusual for me to visit with someone at the county jail who has been re-incarcerated for a second, third or more times. Often the offenses are small, seemingly foolish, like failing to show up for a required probation or drug court meeting. If they had simply arrived on time at a scheduled meeting they could continue to enjoy their summer instead of spending it behind the bars and concrete block walls of the jail. They have many persuasive reasons for missing the meetings but the bottom line comes down to just following the rules that they so mightily struggle to keep. Human beings have certainly shown their difficulty with obeying those in authority since Adam and Eve failed to keep God’s rule about picking the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.
The heartbreak for me is seeing the increasingly serious consequences that these individuals experience. For being lazy, inconsiderate, forgetful, or passive-resistive towards authority, someone can end up serving serious time in a state facility. Because of their nonchalant attitude toward keeping the rules their punishment grows exponentially greater from a few months to a county year to several years in state prison. Often the crime they are in jail for this time may be petty, but their entire history of behavior is considered when sentencing arrives. A consistent rule breaker will find less and less mercy available from the court.
Solomon wrote extensively about the choices of foolish human beings in Proverbs. He contrasts that foolish behavior with the choices of those that have learned to listen and obey. One thing becomes abundantly clear – the longer we resist doing the right things in life the more difficult our lives will become. Being imprisoned is a hard lesson. But for every person the truth is that we need to obey God quickly before we reap the difficult consequences of our defiance.