Side Effects

I Googled a couple of prescription drugs the other day and wondered if I should take them or not. One was called out as the fourth worst culprit for dangerous side effects among all the drugs studied. Scary. Such are the risks of modern medicine. Today’s pharmaceutical industry has inundated us with grandiose claims of impossible cures, reliefs, suppressions, and triumphs over pain and other maladies of the physical body. Cryptic, hybrid names add to the mystique of products, paid actors tout the benefits of the pills, shots, cremes or ointments, and doctors (who say they derive no nancial remuneration from the sales) claim they recommend it to all their patients. Fine. Maybe, maybe not. We all hope it works.

BUT the Federal Drug Administration mandates that something else must follow these fantastic promises—something called side effects! While the advertisers hope the beautiful actors with their smiling faces, the glowing, fuzzy scenes portrayed, and the depictions of healthy exercise will distract us, the forced admissions of the dangers of the drugs torpedo every tantalizing assertion. Consumers of the product could develop other symptoms like fever, rash, numbness, disorientation, or heart brillation. They could experience a stroke, a heart attack, or death. I suppose the rationale is that if you’re going to die, at least it will be painless. You might even enjoy the journey! The sardonic comment goes, “If the disease doesn’t kill you, the cure will!”

You might have to weigh out the pros and cons of the doc’s prescriptions, but when it comes to the Great Physician, you never have to worry about any attendant symptoms or conditions. As Moses said to Hobab, “We are setting out for the place of which the LORD said, ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us, and we will treat you well; for the LORD has promised good things to Israel” (Numbers 10:29, NKJV). Whatever God prescribes for us not only activates the intended benefit, it also generates side effects that will bless one beyond our present circumstances. Go with God. He will do you no harm.

God Prescribes Forgiveness

Some offenses are so painful that it’s possible to resent the command to forgive. It appears the act of forgiving the offending party denies real justice. Doesn’t that person deserve to suffer? Shouldn’t he or she be held accountable for trespasses? It seems like forgiving is a backwards way of condoning a bad actor’s wrong behavior. But look at the side effects. Grace is always superior to condemnation. When you forgive, you take the high road. When you forgive, you unload the burden of bitterness from your heart. When you forgive, you open the door to love. When you forgive, you set the table for reconciliation and restoration.

God Prescribes Repentance

Crucify the esh, kill the old nature, deny yourself—these acts seem insulting, if not injurious, to your basic identity. In our day of af rmation and unconditional support for whatever you want to be, repentance represents a throwback to a brutal age. Yet, when you take the pill of repentance, beneficial side effects emerge. Repentance brings life. “When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorifed God, saying, ‘Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life’” (Acts 11:18, NKJV). Repentance aligns a person with the true gospel. “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). Repentance paves the way for the Holy Ghost baptism. “Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 2:38). Repent now and often. It’s the hurt that helps.

God Prescribes Giving

Greed and sel shness often drive human behavior. Some tend to view giving as an imposition on the need for “stuff,” as a path to impoverishment, or as imperiling one’s welfare. But Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). How can this be? Doesn’t giving deplete our resources? No. In fact, the opposite occurs because of the law of divine side effects. “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, `pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38, NKJV).

God’s amazing side effects are mere bonus blessings to the principle command. The additions promised in Matthew 6:33, as great as they may be, are still secondary to seeking the kingdom of God. Even if the side effects were negative, grasping the kingdom of God would still be worth it. You may nd that you don’t even need the side effects once you obey the main command! But the additions put the nature of God on full display. He always exceeds Himself. My father would say, “I feel better now when I’m sick than I used to feel when I was well!” “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20, NKJV)