Behavioral Science, Following God, and Sacrifice

Behavioral Science is the study of human behavior and what influences people to make the decisions they make. By understanding what makes people decide how they use their resources and what they do with their time, politicians, economists, marketing experts and their cohorts develop theories which translate into practices to try and mold us into what they want us to be. People usually make decisions based on three prevailing thoughts.

1. Will it help me in the present? We want instant gratification. A better future at the cost of the present is not worth a less comfortable present for a better future.

2.What is the chance of failure or have I experienced failure trying it in the past? Failures outweigh success and prevent many from moving.

3.Will it mean that I have to change? If I have to change, I don’t want to do it.

These prevailing thoughts that typically shape our decision making will cause us to make decisions that will inevitably lead to stagnation and death. And our natural tendencies will be exploited by those who want us to be what they want us to be.

When we make decisions, we need to not ask, “Will it help me in the present? What is the chance of failure? Or will it mean that I have to change?” Instead of letting our human tendencies dictate our decisions, what we need to ask is, “What does God want me to do?” God plans long-term, and sometimes his plan might not coincide with the worldly view of success. I might have to sacrifice today to be who he wants me to be tomorrow to bring about the changes that he wants to bring about. I need to realize that success is intimacy with God rather than bigger toys or more entertainment, although we might be blessed with those things. But we must realize that success will come with failures. We will have setbacks. And to continue to grow into the person that God wants, change is inevitable. We cannot be more of who he wants us to be and remain who we are. Those who do not continue to change their lives are on the way to spiritual death. We are either growing or dying. Life is about consistent change. And God is a God of change.

The Bible is a book of changes. In reading it, we get front row seats to see God attempt to shape people, nations, and churches into who he wants them to be. We see faithful people who follow him. We see villains who refuse his guidance only to follow their own desires. The truly faithful discarded the concerns of the moment, their worries about failure, and the human tendency to be hesitant about change, so that they could become who God wanted them to be.