Scripture: verse 12
Stand fast in your enchantments
and your many sorceries,
with which you have labored from your youth;
perhaps you may be able to succeed;
perhaps you may inspire terror.
Observation: God is speaking to Babylon. Apparently Babylon decided it was mighty and powerful and didn’t need to worry about being righteous or just, and so God is going to destroy it. The sorceries and studies it had been relying on will not save it, despite all the hard work that went into them.
This morning my sister mentioned that she might need to drop a course to lower her overall stress level, but that she feels like she’d be admitting failure if she did so. I didn’t have time to talk it through with her, but I sent her a link to an old Freakonomics article about “The Upside of Quitting.” It discusses sunk costs (the resources already used on a project) and opportunity costs (the concept that each decision we make is also a decision not to take the other options), and how we are happier and more productive if we can recognize that a course we have chosen is the wrong one and just quit immediately.
Shortly after that, someone at the ladies’ Bible study mentioned the need to give up things that are blocking us from walking with the Lord. And I felt like these tied together: that we hang on to anger and bitterness and guilt and other things that are hurting us because we have already put so much effort into them. The sunk costs of time and energy and emotion seem to big to walk away from, and we are blind to the opportunity cost of our decision.
We don’t think about opportunity costs. There are studies that show this (link to pdf). When we are making a purchase, we don’t stop and think about what else we could buy for the same money – and when we do, we make different decisions. And when we are living, we don’t stop and remember that God will exchange beauty for ashes and joy for mourning (Isaiah 61). We just do what is comfortable, because we have always done it.
So what sorceries are we clinging to? What are the useless things we have labored in since our youth? What do we need to quit?
Application: Ask God what you need to quit. The opportunity will more than cover the sunk costs.
Prayer: Yeshua, thank you for redeeming me. I praise you because you are the one who knows me and knows my purpose. Help me to quit the things that keep me from it. Amen.