So there I am in the fast food line getting ready to order my lunch. Then the inner debate begins. Do I get that side-salad whose picture is staring me in the face? I could … but … what dressing will I get? … Do I ask for croutons? … Will I slop on my good clothes? (Salads are messy things you know!) And while I’m debating, the line moves and the lady asks what I want and before you know it all the questions are silenced and I find myself soon walking away with french fries. Why? I don’t really even like fries!
Well it seems that I’m not alone. As was recently reported, a new study shows that if I’m not in good company, I am in a large company (bad pun I know) More healthy food choices lead to less healthy eating: study reads in part: “Do you want fries or salad with that? We all know the right answer but given the choice, most of us will opt for the fries, says new research into consumer behaviour. It would appear that as restaurants and vending machine operators grant us our wish for health food options, we are more likely to order the least healthy option, say researchers with City University of New York and Duke University.”
Strange as it sounds, you and I probably already knew this truth didn’t we? It applies not only to something as inconsequential as salad or fries, but so much of the choices we make concerning our spiritual diets as well. Should I go to church today? Do I have time for devotions right now? I really should spend some time praying about that … The inner dialog begins and before you know it the snooze button is working overtime, the schedule is over-booked and prayer is the last thing on your mind. And worse yet, most of us know even as we are making these poor choices that we not only need these godly pursuits, not only that they would be good for us, but that we would enjoy them more than the poor substitutes we so often walk away with! So what is going on?
The authors of the study in question suggest “their finding shows that merely presenting a healthy option vicariously fulfills health-related eating goals, drives attention to the least-healthy choice and provides people with license to indulge in tempting foods.”
So as long as we intended to do good, our minds tell us it is OK to indulge in the bad! Again, this shouldn’t really surprise us should it? Isn’t that what God himself tells us we struggle with because of sin?
I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! [Romans 7:15-25a]
It may not be easy, but it can be done … with God’s help, with Christ’s deliverance, with the Holy Spirit’s continual encouragement. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord, that we can move beyond empty intentions to real results! So put down the fries, wipe the ketchup from your chin and put something far better in your face … like your Bible! See how much better it makes you feel, not only intending – but actually doing!