In their book, Losing Control: How and Why People Fail at Self-Regulation, psychologists Baumeister, Heatherton, and Tice discuss what they call “lapse-activated behavior.” That is behavior that follows a “lapse” in a commitment. A person has resolved, say, to quit smoking and is highly motivated to keep the resolution. But if they break their resolution, the lapse will usually trigger a chain of additional lapses. Subconsciously, the person thinks, “Oh well, the commitment is broken now. I’ve messed up the whole thing, so what’s the use in trying.” Once a resolution has been broken, further lapses are much more likely.
In our spiritual lives, we need to be careful about this pattern of behavior. We all stumble from time to time. We break even the best of our resolutions . . . but it’s important not to give up.
An old adage reminds us that “victory consists of getting up just one more time than you’ve been knocked down.” So when we’ve fallen or been knocked down, we must summon the courage to get back on our feet. In this world, there is no such thing as never stumbling. But there is one thing we can do: we can refuse to give up.
What are the commitments in your life? What are your resolutions and promises, your plans and your intentions? If these are pointing you in God’s direction, then you are to be commended for having made them. When you have a lapse, please don’t question the commitments that you have made. Just gather yourself together and get back to work.
Getting to heaven requires a multitude of adjustments and mid-course corrections. So aim high, make honorable promises, and get back up every time you fall. The Lord will help you to do so (Phil. 4:13).