EMBRACING GODLY HABITS
By Amber Morris
Most of us are able to say that from day to day, our lives are pretty routine. In order for our lives to be routine, along the way, we have picked up a few habits that just make our day go so much smoother. When we alter those behaviors, we tend to alter our days. It is my belief that the habits we pick up can easily fall into one of three different categories…the good (those habits that are healthy for our walk with Christ), the bad (those that lead us to an unhealthy relationship with Christ) and the ugly (the habits that we are simply comfortable with, these habits remind us that contentment is all that matters and we don’t have to change). Regardless of which category our habits fall into, the truth is, we all have these different habits that affect the way others view us and accept us. Much like our relationship with others, these habits have also either hindered or helped our relationship with Christ.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary has over nine different definitions for the word habit but the three main definitions that I believe we can keep in the forefront of our mind as we discuss the topic of godly habits are:
- The prevailing disposition or character of a person’s thoughts and feelings:mental makeup.
- A settled tendency or usual manner of behavior.
- A behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance; an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.
It is no surprise that the way we act, the words we use and the way we treat others are what define a person. I believe that all three of these things are learned habits or behaviors. Our surroundings, our upbringing and our interactions with others have all played a major role in the way we live day to day. They have all had a huge impact on the way we treat others, the way we view our circumstances and the way we act as Christians. If we want to gain and develop good habits, then we must follow the example that is laid out throughout the Bible in the way that Jesus lived.
Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (NLT)
If we want to imitate the life of Christ, to say what He says, to see what He sees, and to love how He loves, then we must honestly seek a relationship with Him. The more we think and act like Christ, the more aware we are of the habits that are of Christ and those which are not.
In order to become more like Christ, we must get into His Word. This means that we not only read, but memorize, it. The more we read about Him, His time on earth and the interactions He had with others, the better we are able to understand why His habits should become our habits. We then begin to see that the way we treat others is either what God had intended for us or we begin to see that we have learned to treat others in complete opposition of God’s will. Either way, this practice allows us the opportunity to change the habits we have learned.
As Christians, we must earnestly seek forgiveness for the bad habits that have so easily become a second nature for us. The more we talk to God (pray) and the more we seek His wisdom, the more it will become evident to others that we are truly seeking to live a life with good habits. We have to talk to God on a daily basis, if we truly wish to live a better life. Talking to God frequently begins to change a person. It allows you the opportunity to acknowledge God for who He truly is and it allows God to share His wisdom with you. This provides you with discernment – something necessary for you to be able to decipher what is good and what is not. The more in tune with God we are, the more likely we are to choose habits that are good for us rather than those that are bad for us.
Being in tune with God and His Word allows us to be open to receive correction. It opens our eyes, hearts and minds to the things that we are doing and to be able to understand that we must change in order to live a healthy life. Hebrews 5:11-14 warns us that we must be comfortable with being able to receive correction that can help us to grow in our walk with Christ. It says, “I have a lot more to say about this, but it may be hard for you to follow since you’ve become dull in your understanding. By this time, you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet I feel like you want me to reteach you the most basic things that God wants you to know. It’s almost like you’re a baby again, coddled at your mother’s breast, nursing, not ready for solid food. No one who lives on milk alone can know the ins and outs of what it means to be righteous and pursue justice; that’s because he is only a baby. But solid food is for those who have come of age, for those who have learned through practice to distinguish good from evil.” (the VOICE)
Hebrews 4:12 reminds us that, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” It is the word of God that reminds us that we have choices to make, we can choose to pick up good habits or bad habits; but as long as we are in tune with God, we are able to choose the good over the bad and it begins to change our view on our daily routine and this begins to shape us into godly people. And, the more like Christ we become the more we see that He is the one that controls our days and not the ugly habits that we have come so accustomed to. These habits are then replaced with habits that fill us with joy.
There is a saying that in order to have JOY in your life you must place Jesus first, yourself last and others in between. This suggests that we must get in the habit of putting Christ first and once we do this, other things will begin to fall into place. The University College of London believes that it takes 21 consecutive days to form a habit and 66 days for it to fully become an ingrained habit. Imagine how different this world would look if we all worked to achieve godly habits (good habits) over the bad and the ugly habits in our lives!
- When you think of habits, do you think negatively or positively about the word? Why?
- What are the the bad habits you have picked up that hinder you from being in close relationship to God?
- What ways can we transform our hearts and our minds so that we are better able to choose good habits?
- What are some other godly habits that one can begin to use to shape ones life to represent a life lived in Christ?
Amber Morris is the Divisional Youth Secretary for the Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division. She grew up in the small town of Willacoochee, Georgia, where she attended church faithfully. It wasn’t until June 2007 that she discovered that there was more to the Salvation Army than the thrift store. She was enrolled as a Salvation Army soldier of the Griffin, Georgia Corps in December of 2008 and commissioned as an officer in June 2012. She served in Augusta, Georgia as the Officer for Program Development and the Jonesboro, Georgia Citadel Corps as Corps Officer before being moved to the wonderful ALM Division in June of 2014.