Beware of Lists

by Spencer Harmon
by Spencer Harmon


I love lists.  Making them.  Reading them.  Checking things off of them.

There is something that excites me when I read the title, “6 Ways to Read the Bible” or “10 Ways to Pursue Your Wife in the New Year” or “4 Ways Not to Waste Your Singleness” It awakens some faint hope that if I read this article, I might just find the silver bullet.  I might have that great epiphany that changes everything.  And I’m not the only one.  Take a quick look at your Twitter and Facebook feeds, and you will quickly see that one of your friends has probably shared a list.  We want to reach our goals, we want to improve, and we want to change.  And we want all of it quickly.

But for all the good that lists can give us, there is a subtle poison I have noticed in my thinking.  I have developed a “quick fix” mentality.  Best practice replaces conviction; behavior replaces motivation; doing replaces being.  But apples don’t grow on trees that don’t have roots, and our behavior won’t change unless our hearts do first.

The barometer of my life is not my resolves for this year, but my reasons for living.  Our thinking is warped when our goals and lists don’t have the deep roots of conviction nourishing them and giving them life.  Although Jesus calls Christians to specific actions and steps of obedience in this life, he first calls us to believe.  Before we act, we abide.  Roots before fruits.

Don’t settle for a quick fix.  By all means: make the list, and be filled with resolve.  But let your resolve be the overflow of a heart that is rooted and grounded in deep love for Christ and faith in his promises.  Because, as C.S. Lewis said,  “sometimes the longest way around is the shortest way home”