Why Most Diets Fail
Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.” Luke 3:14
Most diets eventually fail. It’s not the diet’s fault. Most diets actually work quite well if we adhere to them . . . forever. Therein lies the problem. Most of us view a diet as a temporary solution to a long-term problem. Here’s how it usually goes: In our frustration at being overweight, we commit to a new way of eating. We’re disciplined, and for a time, we see some success. With time, the discipline fades though. One day, we decide that we can cheat just a little. Just one won’t hurt me. I’ll get back on track tomorrow. One turns in to two, which turns into a couple dozen, and soon, we’re back to our old eating habits. Our change was only temporary, and so was our success. True transformation requires permanent change.
He may not have been talking about dieting, but John the Baptist taught the same message in today’s passage: Repentance leads to permanent transformation (my paraphrase). When he told the crowds to Bear fruits in keeping with repentance (Luke 3:8), some in the crowd asked for specific instructions. What then shall we do (Luke 3:10)? To the tax collectors, John said they must stop cheating people. To the soldiers, he commanded them to stop abusing their power. John identified whatever sin it was that was dragging them down and commanded that they abandon it . . . forever. If they wanted to know God, they weren’t just to go on a temporary diet from sin. They must truly repent (turning around, going the other way) and live a different life.
This is what Christ asks of us. Whatever it is that drags us down, whatever it is that we can’t seem to give up, is the thing that we must abandon. Though we may be eternally forgiven, many of us are living an anemic, paralyzed spiritual life because of our addictive attachment to drugs, pornography, anger, pride, resentment, money, or even food. When we are mastered by our self-destructive behaviors, thoughts, and attitudes, we cannot enjoy the life and peace we were made for. If we want to know life, faith, and recovery, then we must commit to permanent change, daily doing whatever it takes to abandon the old life for the new one.