I can still remember sitting in science class back in elementary school and learning about cause and effect for the first time. I was never very good or very interested in science, but cause and effect was one of those things that I found fascinating. With every cause, there is an effect. This blew my little, elementary mind. And then I heard about the butterfly effect. Have you heard of it before? The butterfly effect, much like cause and effect, fascinated me. Let me explain in case you’re unfamiliar with such a concept. The butterfly effect is the concept that small causes can have large effects. In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. Example: the theory is that when a butterfly moves its wings somewhere in the world, it can cause a tornado in another part of the world. How incredible is that? As God reminded me of this theory, he spoke to my heart and I asked myself two questions, “What effects am I having?” and “Do I understand the enormity of my decisions?” Wow! Those are some painful questions.
Let’s call it the overflow. What is spilling out of you? What words, actions, or decisions are flowing from you? Every decision we make affects more than ourselves. We will never do anything that affects only us. Our life choices flow from us and onto everyone around us, sometimes for generations to come. Take Adam and Eve, for example, we are all seeing the effects of one wrong decision they made thousands of years ago. They made a poor choice, and it has affected everyone born from that day forward (Rom 5:12). Maybe you too can see the effects of someone else’s mistakes overflow into your own life. They had no idea how their poor decision would affect those they love.
I realize we’ve pointed out the hurt that can come from our poor choices, but the overflow isn’t always negative. Take the most excellent example of all, Jesus. While sin entered the world through one man, Jesus took all the sin of the world upon himself and died on the cross for all of us. So while sin came through one wrong decision, life also was made available to us by one act of love.
What we do matters, like a butterfly flapping its wings, our decisions have the power to change the course of history. You and Christ in you, can change the overflow. What choices do you need to make today that will spill love, mercy, grace, and blessings onto those around you? Maybe it’s time to break off the affair, or walk away from a toxic friendship. Perhaps you need to put down the bottle or throw out the needles. And when Satan whispers his lies that it’s too late or that you’ve gone too far, remind him to back up because he’s fixing to get caught in the overflow of grace. Our effect changes the moment our cause changes.
See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled. Hebrews 12:15