The Backfire Effect

He made a pit and dug it out (a trap), And has fallen into the ditch which he made. His trouble shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down on his own crown. I will praise the LORD according to His righteousness, and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High. – Psalm 7:15-17.

Though his hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness will be revealed before the assembly. Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him. – Proverbs 26:26-27.

back·fired, back·fir·ing, back·fires meaning to, “produce an unexpected, undesired result.” I believe this is a frequent, unwanted occurrence in the living of life. Take, for example, the two brothers in Nevada who came home to find that a burglar had broken into their apartment. They did what most people would do; they called the police to report what had happened. However, when law enforcement arrived to investigate they found some marijuana, along with psychedelic mushrooms, cocaine, handguns, an assault rifle, and drug paraphernalia. The call to report a burglary has backfired on the brothers as they are now the ones in jail.

In another example, a woman tried to make her adult daughters leave her home by setting the house on fire. The woman, Belinda, 47 years old, wanted her daughters to give her money to buy cocaine. A spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, James Hartman, said that Belinda “had returned home after an all-night drug binge and insisted they give her money to acquire cocaine.” Instead of forcing her daughters to give her money, she has ended up in jail. She knows what it is like to have something backfire on you.

The Bible indicates that the backfire effect is exactly what people are up against who plan evil, who plan to hurt others, and who plan to cheat others. You see it happen over and over again. Just this last Sunday a man was arrested in Iowa for trying to sneak into a house by going down their chimney but instead he got stuck and arrested. I have lost track of the number of times this happens – it must be almost once a month. I wonder if anyone ever succeeded in doing that?

Instead of planning to cheat, steal, deceive, or some other evil thing what should we do? We should act with honesty and integrity with not just our interests being considered but also the interests of others being considered as well (Philippians 2:3-4). We should obey the second great commandment, which Jesus says is, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39).”

To keep things from backfiring on you do what the apostle Paul says in Ephesians 5:8-10, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.” Paul gives us a good example to follow in Act 24:16, “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”

Remember if you set a trap for someone, you may just end up experiencing the “backfire effect.”

(The benefits of right living and the problems of wrong living.)

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