Start Creating Healthy Habits
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
When an engine blew on the Airbus that United Airlines captain Ed Palacio was flying, the instrument panel lit up like a Christmas tree. “Ed,” I later asked as we were talking about the incident, “What did you think about when this happened?’ His reply: “I didn’t have time to think. I instinctively did what I had been trained to do.” His passengers were glad that Ed hadn’t been sleeping in class when they covered those procedures. He was so well trained and disciplined; his reactions were instinctive and habitual.
Do an experiment for a moment. Fold your hands together. If you’re driving right now, you exempted from this one, but if you can, yes, fold your hands together. Now look at them. Now unfold them and do it again. I’ll tell you one thing for sure. Should you do this 100 times, you will do the same thing 100 times. It’s a habit and a long standing one, too. Habit is the flywheel of society. It keeps the fisherman at sea in the winter, and keeps the miner going down the shaft into darkness day after day. It sends the farmer to his field no matter what the weather, and keeps the prostitute on the street and the alcoholic and addict looking for a bottle or a fix.
Habits, of course, work both ways—good ones and not-so-good ones.
Years ago, a Harvard University psychology professor, William James, wrote, “If we realized the extent to which we are mere walking bundles of habits, we would give more heed to their formation. We are spinning our own fates,” he wrote, “good or evil–and never to be undone.”
Walk into an auditorium you’ve never been in before, and sit down. Come back a week later and where do you sit? Exactly where you were the week before. After three times, you’re hooked. You park in the same spot, sit in the same seat, eat at the same restaurants, and do the same thing time after time, month after month, year after year.
Question: Are you a victim of your habits? Or can you change your habits and life style? Is the potato chip addict stuck for life as is the person who can’t live without TV soaps and vodka? No, habits can be broken. But if they are, it has to be because of strong motivation, something stronger than the force of habit, which created motivation to change.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come!” Being a new person, a new creation, means new habits. The following guidelines can make a difference in your life.
Guideline #1: Break with old habits decisively. Don’t cut a dog’s tail off an inch at a time. The Ephesians burned their magic books in one great fire. Draw a line and by the grace of God cross it, never to return.
Guideline #2: Establish a new habit immediately. “In the main,” wrote Henry James, “all experts agree that abrupt acquisition of the new habit is the best way.” You’ll also find God’s help and strength which takes you beyond where you are in the natural. There is God’s help to overcome man’s failure—your failure.
Guideline #3: Go public with your commitment. Run up the flag. Tell your friends. Sign a pledge. Paint a sign, or fly a banner, but don’t go back. Make a clean break with past habits and friends which drag you down. Nobody but you can do this, but you can.
Guideline #4: Reach out and find God’s strength. The Bible is full of promises of help. “The power that works in you,” using the biblical phrase, is the Holy Spirit. His hand within gives you strength to be the person without. He makes the difference.
Resource reading: Colossians 3:1-17.