2004-04-13 - Habits
John 15:8 "By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples."
When I was involved in Campus Crusade for Christ, I went to a conference in Kansas City with 20,000 other mostly like-minded folks. I don't remember much about what the speakers said, but I remember a man named Howard Hendrix say that it takes 30 days to start a habit. I don't recall if he mentioned how long it takes to break a habit, but I bet that it is at least 30 days and probably more.
Habits are formed by repeating individual acts. For example, let's say you would like to read the Bible every morning before the day starts. Start slowly, and don't overburden yourself with 15 chapters each day, or you will only get out of bed to do it on the first day. Rather, try reading one chapter each morning. Most months have 31 days, so you might pick a book like Proverbs, or 1 Samuel, which each have 31 chapters. That way, if it is April 13, you know you are on chapter 13. Keeping it simple at the start with any new habit will help you to establish it as a habit. You can always add to what you are doing, but it is the hurdle of getting started that is often hardest to clear.
Once we do something the first time, it becomes easier to repeat again. When something is done frequently, it becomes a habit. The habit becomes spontaneous, and the effort extended becomes less and less noticeable. However, we need to remember that the formation of a habit works for things that are both good and evil. A right habit can be formed by frequency, just as a wrong one can.
There are some parts of life that should be second nature to a Christian. These might be called habits, for a habit is like a second nature. These areas will have their times of struggle, but the desire and habit of the Christian should certainly include: Bible reading and meditation, prayer, fellowship, and visible love to God by obeying His commandments. These are basic habits for the Christian, but they are also aspects of our lives that we have to develop. These habits are not infused into the Christian at conversion, but are part of the process of growth in grace. It is interesting that each one of the four above mentioned encourage and discourage the others. Just as Bible reading will encourage holiness of life and prayer, so also plunging ourselves into sinful habits will discourage our communion with God.
"Begin the Christian race from the cross, and whenever you faint or grow weary, look back to it again." -- Thomas Adam
Soli Deo Gloria,