"Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers." - VoltairE

Sin and the sunk cost fallacy

Posted by Anne Witton on Wednesday, April 5, 2023 Under: Reflections

I like reading books about economics. One of the things that I’ve always found fascinating is the sunk cost fallacy, “the phenomenon whereby a person is reluctant to abandon a strategy or course of action because they have invested heavily in it, even when it is clear that abandonment would be more beneficial.” 1

We all know the kind of thing: Sitting through a terrible film because you’ve paid for the ticket and so wasting time and money, rather than just money; Pursuing a career that you hate because of the time and money invested in education and training; Spending more money on repairing an old car because it’s already cost you a lot rather than cutting your losses and getting rid of it.

I think the same kind of psychology can operate when we’ve rebelled against God. Sometimes sin has cost us an awful lot and so we hold out for the perceived benefits rather than cutting our losses. When sin has cost us our marriage, family, friends or job it’s easy to want to hang onto those things that we’ve given it all up for, even if they’re not satisfying us or delivering what they promised.

Life lived in disobedience to God can look so attractive from the outside. It’s like a holiday brochure that shows you all the glorious beaches in the best weather, completely unspoiled countryside, delicious food, Eden-like nature. And when you get there, you realise it’s full of annoying tourists and there’s a litter on the beach and there are feral dogs and it’s expensive. Some things about it might still be great but it’s definitely not what you were expecting. It can be hard to admit that you were taken in.

It can be like that when we run away from God too. Sometimes it’s easier just to carry on and pretend you’re enjoying yourself rather than to hold your hands up and admit that God’s right and come running back to him. It’s cost so much to pursue this life that it’s hard to go back, even though going back to Jesus would be by far the most beneficial thing. That’s the sunk cost fallacy.

There can be a real pride in doggedly continuing to sin. We try to save face by trying to convince ourselves that our way’s best, even when we know it’s not. We don’t want to admit what idiots we all are sometimes. We can even want to go back to God, but mistakenly think there’s nothing to go back to because we’ve burnt all our bridges. The good news is that Jesus says to us, “Come home my love, no matter what you’ve done, no matter how bad it is. There is a welcome here for you. Nobody is going to be angry - that was dealt with at the cross. All I want is to have you home where you belong.”

If that’s you, will you listen to his voice today? It’s never too late to come back home to Jesus and it will always be worth it.


1 Definition from https://languages.oup.com/google-dictionary-en/

In : Reflections 

Tags: sin economics 


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