The power to change: Holy habits
We wish we had never gotten started with a bad habit. That when we look back, we wish we could go and tell our younger selves, “Don’t even start down this road because you’re going to regret it.” The reason we even start down that road is that we don’t think we will regret it. We don’t think we are causing any actual harm. We might even know it’s wrong, we might know it’s even a bad idea, but we do it anyway. The problem with bad habits is that we are dulled into the dangers they pose and the pain they inflict because we can go a long time before we see any consequences we regret. Hope is good. We never want to go through life without hope. But it’s important to remember hope alone won’t change your life. Habits will.
Something To Talk About:
A habit is simply an ingrained pattern of behavior we have picked up along the way. Our brain chemistry re-wires itself to “hard code” long-ingrained habits, reducing the mental energy we exert to perform the habit by making it automatic. In a very real way, our habits determine who we are and give us the power for real change.
- Hope alone won’t change your life, habits will: Wherever you are in life right now, your habits brought you to that place, whether good or bad. And with God’s help and love, your life can change for the better starting now—by changing your habits. You do that one day at a time, little by little. Did you know that what you do daily determines what you become permanently? Your daily habits are creating your future. You are a result today of yesterday’s habits, good or bad. This is true in every area of life. The same is true spiritually speaking. The spiritual condition you are in now is a direct result of your habits. Your Bible reading, church attendance, and prayer habits have created the spiritual condition you are in right now. The good habits you begin to form today can improve your life in every one of these areas. The bottom line is this: Discipline yourself to do the right thing long enough, and eventually, the right thing will happen to you.
- Make it obvious: If we want to be faithful followers of Jesus, we must carefully consider our habits. Because we hand over much of our lives to our habits, much more than we probably realize. Habits almost always start with a cue. There’s some cue, something you see. Once you see it, it creates a desire or a craving followed by a response or an action. When it comes to your habits, your cues determine what you do. If you want to change what you do, what do you do? You change your cues. If you want to change what you do, change your cues. Make it obvious. If you want to take vitamins in the morning and they are all up in the cabinet, take them out and put them by your toothbrush. And so when you brush your teeth, see your vitamins and take them. Put them out the night before. Make it obvious. If you want to read your Bible daily to start your day, don’t leave your Bible in the drawer. Put your Bible by your cereal bowl or whatever you do. Put a reminder on your phone. If you get up every day at such and such time, 15 minutes later, put a reminder on your phone to do your YouVersion Bible reading plan. Just make it obvious. Start there.
- Make it easy: The second thing you wanna do is you wanna make it easy, make it obvious, and make it easy. Consider the two-minute rule: if you can do something in two minutes, do it now. Clear it off your plate. For example, let’s say you want to create the habit of journaling. Make it easy. Instead of writing four pages, your goal is to write one sentence. You’re lowering the threshold. You’ll get into the habit if you write one sentence a day. And I promise you, if you write one, you might write two. But if you don’t write one, you won’t write two. So you lower the threshold for success, and you make it easy. Let’s say you wanna pray with your spouse, but it’s really hard to pray with your spouse because you’re nervous and intimidated. So lower the threshold and say, what we’re going to do is we’re just going to hold hands, and we’re going to thank God for one thing. God, thank you for healthy kids. God, thank you that we have jobs; God, thank you that we have life, whatever. And you thank God for one thing. And if you start there and thank God for one thing, you might thank God for two things and three things. And the next thing you know, you’re learning to pray together. Zechariah 4:10 says this, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, …”. You have no idea how God might do something big through one small habit.
- On a scale of 1-10, how difficult is it for you to start new habits?
- Who do you want to become? What habit do you need to start to get there? Based on who you want to become, what habit do you want to break?
- Talk about some of your current habits. In what ways are they honoring God? How could you use these existing habits to start one new habit?
- Share about a time when you experienced change through spiritual transformation. How was that different the times you’ve tried to change through behavior modification?
- Do you ever feel like you want to break your habit but can’t convince yourself that you need to break the habit?
- Think of the last time you broke a habit. What worked? What didn’t work?
- Look down the road. Where could you end up if you don’t break a bad habit?
- How does this habit affect your relationship with God? With others? Your job and/or ministry? Your health?
- What was your main takeaway from this week’s message?
Take One Thing Home with You:
Your habits determine what you are and where you go in life. Your character is the total of your habits. How do you develop habits? Well, you develop them by repetition and by practice. In John chapter 13:17, Jesus says this, “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” You don’t get God’s blessing for knowing the right thing to do. You get God’s blessing for doing the right thing, practicing it, and making it a habit in your life. There are two ways you build any habit in your life. Through repetition and practice. Here’s what many of us do. We read the Bible, and we pray for a day or two, and then we miss a day. Then we read our Bible for a day, and we miss two days. Then maybe you miss a month. That is not developing habits. The Bible says this in 1 Corinthians 9:25. “All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.” The habits you build in your spiritual life will pay off forever in eternity.