Theologians have a concept they call the "problem of evil." Basically it is this: God is all-powerful, and yet there is evil in the world, so how can He be all-benevolent or all-loving? It is also the main point that is brought out against God by those who do not believe -- or who do not want to believe.
The answer is quite simple, and quite scary. God respects our free will. God allows us to make choices, even if they hurt other people. To do otherwise would be to deny that choices have consequences. Instead, He gave us rules to follow.
For example, cheating on someone (and breaking the commandment Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery) hurts their relationship (even if it was hurt before), and thus hurts other people. It can hurt the adulterer too, such as STDs, or if the angry husband comes looking for the dirty bastard who slept with his wife.
The consequences can be considered negated if the person repents and asks Jesus to forgive them. However, the lingering effects of that choice will generally remain in this universe. Sin is like entropy, adding disorder to God's ordered creation.
The two big causes of sin, the two main motives for hurting other people, are self-preservation and self-exaltation. (I am thankful to Erwin Lutzer of Moody Church for pointing this out, and to God for showing him this in the first place.)
In other words, fear and pride are the two big causes of sin. Self-preservation denies God's sovreignity over the world around you; self-exaltation denies God's sovreignity over you. (Sovreignity in this case means the right to determine what happens, and what to allow or not allow.)
Fear makes moral matters seem unimportant. We call a person a hero if they ignore what fear tells them to do, and instead, they do the right thing.
Pride makes other people seem unimportant. We call a person humble when they don't seek praise for their accomplishments.
However, it is not sinful to accept accolades for accomplishments; it is good to give the credit to God, who gave you the abilities and resources in the first place. And it is not sinful to reap the fruit of your labor, as long as the profit is what you earned by your efforts.
Also, it is not sinful to protect yourself. Protecting yourself from physical danger is one of the parts of life on a fallen plane of existence. Protecting yourself from emotional and logical danger is also vital to your life. Running away from psychologically dangerous people is a valid self-protection mechanism, especially when they know they have a problem and still keep hurting you.
Life is full of choices. Some are immediate, such as whether to blog from work or to jot it down for later. I don't know what the consequences will be to me for taking the twenty minutes to post this, but at this moment, it seems worth it. Some are choices that stretch out over a long period of time, such as saving up my meagers funds now for our Summer trip to Disney World. Some are choices we don't have the ability or resources to achieve, such as personally travelling to the Moon.
God gives each of the choice to accept His Son's sacrifice as the substitute for our sins. He gives us the resources and capacity to make that decision. However, we have to choose to accept it. He will not force salvation on us.
Like a marriage proposal, He asks us to become His bride, His adopted son, His younger brother, His walking temple, His messenger, His worker. He asks us each, individually, personally, to give up the fear and the pride, and accept Him.
He will help you to make the right decisions, both in life in general, and regarding salvation.
Labels: choice, fear, forgiveness, free will, pain, pride, sin