Some of you may know that I try to memorize a verse or two each month. For the month of September, it was 2 Timothy 2:14,15 in The Message:
“Repeat these basic essentials over and over to God’s people. Warn them before God against pious nitpicking, which chips away at the faith. It just wears everyone out. Concentrate on doing your best for God, work you won’t be ashamed of, laying out the truth plain and simple.”
I’m gaining so much insight from these two verses.
Allow me to focus in this post on laying truth out plain and simple. You’d think that would be a given for a communicator (keeping things plain and simple) but my experience has taught me otherwise. I have read too many posts, too many books and listened to too many sermons where the simple truth gets lost in an avalanche of words. I love the concept of brevity in spoken and written words as opposed to verbosity. Keeping it short sweet and to the point…cookies on the lower shelf within everyone’s reach.
Here is a simple and plain truth to chew on.
To a large extent, ongoing maturity in the Christian life is a matter of
Breaking bad habits and building good habits,
and doing this as you are led by the Holy Spirit, empowered by the Holy Spirit and seek to honor Jesus.
Much of what the Apostle Paul says in his letters to believers deals with stopping certain kinds of behavior and starting different kinds of behavior. Colossians 3 would be a case in point where he specifically tells them to put to death and put off certain kinds of behavior and instead put on different kinds of behavior The driver for all this flows out of the fact that we have been raised from the dead and are alive in Christ (Colossians 3:1-3). Theologians call this idea a combination of Indicatives (the truth of who God is and what he has done) and imperatives (what we are to do in light of who God is and what He has done.)
Now, let’s take it one step further. We have built bad habits which need to be replaced with good habits.
Here are a few practical examples:
- Say, I have the bad habit of losing my temper, and want to build the good habit of self-control
- Say. I have the bad habit of staying up too late watching TV and want to build the good habit of getting to bed earlier so I get a good night’s sleep and start my day off rested
- Say, I have the bad habit of interrupting people when they’re talking and want to build the good habit of listening well
- Say, I have the bad habit of being “chained” to my cell phone and need to build the good habit of checking it less often so I can work uninterrupted and be more productive
You get the idea. Rather than asking God to make you more like Jesus or asking Him to bless you or grow you, how about identifying a specific bad habit you have and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, replacing that bad habit with a good one. You can do this!
If you go to Amazon you may be surprised at how many books there are about “Habits.” Most of us are creatures of habit and some of these habits (how we use our time, money and energy) are not healthy but harmful and keep us from going where we want to go in life, family and work.
We have morning habits. We have bedtime habits. We are in the habit of taking the same route to shop or go to work. We are in the habit of doing certain things in certain ways and in some cases have been doing so for years. It takes time and intentionality to break a bad habit and form a good one.
Right now, by His grace, I’m working on breaking the bad habit of being inflexible and building the good habit of being flexible. I can already see progress and so can my wife, Susan.
- Specifically Identify the bad habit you want to break
- Specifically Identify the good habit you want to build
- Memorize some Scripture which deals with this desire
- Begin to pray daily for His power and grace in seeing a change that will honor Him and benefit you
- Share your desire with a few friends who can pray for you and appropriately hold you accountable