2 Peter 1:10 (New International Version)
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble,
Branau am Inn is a simple yet attractive town in upper Austria. Its rustic stores are neatly lined up with fashioned displays, the church steeple proudly towers above the skyline, and flowers decorate the streets, the remains of medieval walls, and the houses, some of which date back to the 16th and 17th centuries.
This quiet little town can also be found in the history books, for it hosts the birthhouse of one rather well-known name from the past: Adolph Hitler. Adolph, the 4th child of Klara and Alois Hitler, was the only one in the family to make the history books. His dad, a hard-working man, held considerable status in the Austrian custom services and he provided well for his family's needs.
Adolph was a medium student, whose only ambition in life was to become an artist. Unfortunately, this ambition did not please his father. He eventually left school with the equivalent of a ninth grade education, and his 1907 application to the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts was denied. It seems that Adolph was "unqualified" for their programs.
After both of his parents had passed away, Adolph lived on his inheritance, as well on an orphan fund, which required that he continue his studies. He pretended to do just that, but he was unwilling to work, and after exhausting all of his money, Adolph ended up in a homeless shelter.
Between 1910 and 1913 Adolph painted and sold postcards and pictures. He also began debating his unique ideas with others in the shelter. He failed to register for the Austrian draft and ended up fleeing to Munich, Germany. He eventually was extradited back to Austria, but was then rejected by the army as physically unfit.
When World War I broke out, Adolph volunteered for the German army. While he laid in the hospital, temporarily blinded by mustard gas, Germany was declared defeated. It was at that time that he began to blame Jews for the defeat of Germany, and he decided to enter politics in order to save the country.
Little by little Hitler began developing his speaking skills, and he eventually rose to power and changed the world with his ambitions. This led to World War II, and it has been estimated that between 50 and 70 million people were killed during this atrocious War.
How could someone from such a quiet little town grow up to make the kinds of choices made by Adolph Hitler? Interestingly, it was just one decision leading to another, but these affected the world.
Our own actions are no different. We may think that our petty sins have no consequences on anyone, but they do. Think about it: families are destroyed, children become estranged and people are herded into a life of hell. All because of one wrong action that lead to another.
Beauty may surround us. We may even be attending church regularly. But if we live for ourselves instead of for God, we will eventually cause damage that will affect not only ourselves, but our loved ones as well. True love cannot co-exist with selfishness. It is impossible.
If in doubt about the consequences of your actions, consider Adolph Hitler's life. He had a promising future, but his choices didn't fulfill him.
Are our lives making a difference to others, or are we just barely trying to exist? Are others blessed by our decisions, or do our decisions hurt them? In the hereafter, will we be received with open arms or with disdain?
Dear Lord we pray that the decisions we make today and each day that follows would be decisions that bring others to You and not turn them away. In Jesus’ name.