Why Do We Do the Things We Do?
Small children often use the word “why”—usually in the form of a question directed at a person older than them. How often do they pester others with that question! And each answer, it seems, triggers another question—another why.
But as they become older, that curiosity begins to wane. They stop asking why so frequently. What is the reason for this? Is it because they know it all at that point? No. For some reason they become comfortable with the status quo. Most of us begin to accept things the way they are—without question.
Perhaps the expressions of frustration from those who didn’t have time to answer, or who didn’t know the answers, to children’s questions squelched the curiosity somewhat. Or maybe it was the impression that there are no answers to most whys. Whatever the cause, we learn that it’s a whole lot easier to accept most things as they are, unquestioned, without considering the reason.
It’s so effortless to follow the crowd, to succumb to pressure from peers, to do what comes naturally—what we feel satisfies us, whether or not it really is beneficial.
What a shame to lose this curiosity! What problems and wasted hours we could avoid if we would only examine ourselves to see why we do the things we do—and if we ought to be doing them.
Too few have ever wondered why they believe what they do, why they follow the customs they do, or where those customs came from.
One example is the celebration of various holidays and traditions. Take Christmas, for example. Why do people around the world celebrate December 25? Most assume it is in honor of Jesus Christ’s birthday. But if they would check any encyclopedia, they’d find that the exact date of Jesus’s birth is unknown.
The Holy Bible reveals that Jesus wasn’t born in the winter at all. When He was born, “there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:4-8). In those times, and in that part of the globe, shepherds always brought their flocks in from the hills and fields and corralled them no later than mid-October. They did this to protect the sheep and themselves from the cold rains that followed (see Song of Solomon 2:11; Ezra 10:9, 13).
Regardless of when Jesus was born, the Bible nowhere instructs us to observe birthdays. Instead, true Christians are told to observe the anniversary of Christ’s death as a memorial (1 Corinthians 11:24-26).
Where did we get all the various customs and traditions associated with Christmas from, if they didn’t originate in Christianity? The Encyclopedia Britannica states, “Christmas customs are an evolution from times that long antedate the Christian period—a descent from seasonal, pagan, religious and national practices, hedged about with legend and tradition” (15th Edition, article “Christmas”). This and other authoritative reference works plainly confirm that many decorations such as the holly wreath, mistletoe and the Yule log are relics of pre-Christian times.
Jeremiah 10:1-5 make reference to an evil practice occurring during Jeremiah’s time—hundreds of years before Jesus was born. People were cutting down evergreen trees and decorating them for their homes. The Eternal God was not impressed.
Some people, when faced with the fact that Christmas has evolved from pagan customs, will claim they are really “honoring” Christ instead. They think it does not matter to God how the Messiah is worshiped. However, Jesus Himself said that it is possible to attempt to worship Him and still do it all in vain—if we don’t do it His way! (Compare Matthew 15:9 and Deuteronomy 12:29-31.)
It’s time to stop assuming and check up! Why should we follow pagan traditions and superstitions such as Christmas—or New Year’s Eve, Easter, Valentine’s Day and Halloween, for that matter? Why should we blindly go along with what everyone else in society is doing?
Encyclopedias and other books contain much startling information about why things are the way they are. These materials are readily available to those who crave understanding. But, here again is another case where most people don’t ask why. They can’t be bothered to do research online, or to go to a library to check up on things. They don’t ask whether they ought to be doing what they’re doing. They just go with the flow—and blindly follow those around them. They do what comes naturally and is the easiest. Why rock the boat?
In contrast to the customs and holidays of pagan origin our society observes, special days do exist that are meaningful and which were commanded by God to be kept.
The living God has His own set of holy, sanctified days. Many biblical passages show that Jesus, and the entire New Testament Church, kept the same annual festivals that were commanded to be kept forever in the Old Testament (Leviticus 23:1-36).
What could be better than restoring the observance of God’s holy days? Kept according to His instructions, God’s holy days are much more meaningful and fulfilling than all of the false substitutes put together. If you want more information on these holy days, request our free publication Pagan Holidays or God’s Holy Days—Which?
Our present generation is witnessing an amazing upsurge in materialistic knowledge. We live in what is called the information age. Yet, as is written in 2 Timothy 3:7, our sophisticated civilization is “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
But why is it that, in this age of scientific advancements and mass public education, our human society has been unable to stop terrorism or secure world peace? Doesn’t it seem ironic that instead of solving the world’s problems, scientists and politicians have brought us to the point where we are now threatened by superweapons capable of erasing all life from planet Earth?
Why is our civilization the way it is? Why do we humans do the things we do? The answer is simply that there is a huge lack of true education.
Sure, there is plenty of materialistic, scholarly, human-based education out there. Today’s colleges and universities are full of it. But few seem to realize that a true education can only come through learning and applying the Almighty God’s principles and ways.
The Holy Bible is our Maker’s instruction book to those He designed and created. It’s the guidebook instructing us how to live—how to properly use our mind, the most wonderful mechanism ever produced, to secure the intended results of happiness, joy, peace, security, freedom from fears and worries, vibrant, energetic health, and perfection of righteous character. Yet almost no one uses this Word of God for its intended purpose!
What do they do instead? Most people, ignoring or disregarding the Bible, follow blindly the wrong ways and customs of other people. They naively absorb and gullibly accept without question the false theories and ideologies of other people. In the long run, those wrong beliefs end in misery and death.
Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” That same warning from God is repeated in Proverbs 16:25.
Because we live in a world influenced by an unseen spirit being, Satan the devil (2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2; Revelation 12:9), our human minds develop “human nature,” from a young age. This is what leads us to do what we think is right.
Our human mind, therefore, follows a way of life that satisfies the self. It follows the way of man which seems right, but disobeys the law of God, with which it is in total disagreement (Romans 8:7).
Herbert W. Armstrong’s book The Missing Dimension in Sex put it this way: “This world’s society and its customs are based on human nature—which is to say, on Satan’s ways—and are diametrically contrary to God’s ways! Go along with the crowd, and you are stumbling along with the other dumb sheep to the slaughter! Why be one of the crowd? Why not stand out from the crowd of ignoramuses and weaklings, as one who has knowledge, wisdom and character! Any old dead fish can float downstream, but it takes a live one to swim against the current!”
That’s right—why should we do what others say is right? For that matter, why follow the path of least resistance and do what we think is right, when it really is not?
What we need is a better guide for making our decisions than our own minds can provide. The Creator has provided this better guide through the pages of the Bible. The Scriptures must be our guidebook to successful living.
Prove All Things
1 Thessalonians 5:21 instructs us: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” This includes proving our moral values, our religious beliefs and political concepts, as well as scientific facts. Modern education does not really teach us to prove everything. If it did, world chaos and confusion would not exist.
In order to gain a true education, in order to know right from wrong, revealed Bible knowledge must become our standard. Yes, we should have a Bible reason for everything we do—day in and day out. Without such a standard of reference, any attempt to prove a thing becomes futile, subject to all the bias, weakness and vanity of human nature, and subject to human misinterpretation.
So the standard for successful living—the key to a true education—then, is this: We must prove all things from a biblical viewpoint. The Word of God is profitable for correction as well as for instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). Once we conclusively prove an idea to be right and good, we should hold fast to it—and never let it go.
Ask yourself why you do what you do. If you find what you are doing is right, then good for you! If it isn’t right, make it right. You will be happier for sure!