April 1, 2023

From the Pastor

Whenever something goes in the opposite direction that one expects there is always the temptation to try to “get back to zero”. For instance, when people buy a stock which then goes down, there is a well-established phenomenon in which, as the price approaches the point at which many people bought it, a wave of sales happens which quickly pushes the price back down below that original entry price. This is because people who bought the stock–and who are now thinking irrationally–become desperate to prove to themselves that their mistake was “not really a mistake” by coming out of the deal at the same place they entered it. A more rational approach would be to recognize the mistake, sell at a loss, and move on.

This can be seen more generally in what is sometimes called the “sunk costs fallacy”. Imagine you’ve already invested a lot of time and effort into some project, but as time goes on, it becomes more and more clear that the project is not succeeding. Now, there are two ways of evaluating your situation: 1) you can reason that you already invested so much into the project, that it would be a waste to abandon it, or 2) you can ask yourself, “If I were to start fresh on this project today, with the information I have now, would I start it?” The logical and rational approach is the second one, but we become emotionally invested in our past efforts and so tend to be naturally inclined towards the first. This can lead to a dangerous cycle sometimes called an “escalation of commitment”, in which you throw “good money after bad”, digging yourself in deeper and deeper with no hope of escape beyond the (now impossible) success of the project.

This is not just an economic or psychological phenomenon; we can apply our understanding of this to matters of spiritual importance, too. Consider that we are all being constantly held in perfect spiritual equilibrium, as it says in True Christian Religion:

“This spiritual equilibrium or free choice can be illustrated by earthly examples of equilibrium. It is like the equilibrium experienced by a person tied around the waist or arms between two men of equal strength. The person in the middle is pulled by one man to the right and by the other to the left. In that situation the person in the middle is able freely to pull to one side or the other as if not constrained by any force at all.” (TCR 478:1)

Every single moment of your life, there are spiritual forces – both heavenly and hellish — exerting a constant influence on you. When you make a choice, whether for good or evil, both of those forces move with you in that choice. If you take a step toward hell, then the angels will take one step along with you, ready to draw you back. This means that, while your past is not meaningless, your focus really should always be on your present moment. Each moment is its own brand new starting point — in every moment you are at zero with regard to your next decision.

So don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because you have already gone down a certain path, you’re doomed to continue on that path. No matter what mistakes you’ve made in life, you are always at the cusp of a decision that can reverse your direction. The amount of force the Lord permits hell to exert on you does not change, nor does the amount of assistance the angels are ready to give you, no matter where you are on your path of life. All that matters is your next choice.

Will your next step be one towards heaven, or one towards hell? Forget about your past steps; just focus on this very next one, on this singular moment. The Lord, through His angels and His creation, will do the rest. You never need to “get back to zero” before improving. You are always at zero. So, make your next choice. ~Mac Frazier, Pastor

Read more messages from the Pastors