This is my year…Breaking bad 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 real harm. We might even know it’s wrong, we might know it’s even a bad idea, but we just do it anyway. The problem with bad habits is that we are dulled to the dangers they pose and the pain they inflict because we can go a long time before we see any consequences that we regret. If you are to be the Christian you want to become, what one habit do you need to break?
Something To Talk About:
Breaking bad habits is an important outcome of making the right choices because your destiny is not floating around out there, it is the sum of all the choices you make. Therefore, if you get into the habit of making the right choices time and again, you will certainly move toward being the person God wants you to be.
- Make it difficult to do:
- Acknowledge the bad habit: Bad habits vary from person to person, but the first step is to acknowledge that you have a bad habit. Psalms 139:23-24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Let the Holy Spirit search your heart and reveal what needs to be changed. This is not a once-off process, but over time He will reveal more and more to us.
- Discover what triggers the bad habit: To conquer your enemy, you must know him. By discovering the “cue” that ignites the habit, you place yourself in a position of power over the temptation. When you are nervous, you bite your fingernails; when you are bored, you open up your smartphone and disconnect from the world around you. By understanding the triggers behind your habits, you can begin working on a strategy to overcome them.
- Consider Tomorrow: While a half-gallon of chocolate ice cream might seem good in the moment, wisdom asks what the implications are for tomorrow. If physical discomfort comes from a habit, focus on the discomfort that will come tomorrow instead of the temporary pleasure of indulging today. Our behaviors hold natural consequences, and it is by God’s grace that He allows us to feel the weight of our sins. Consider whether coveting expensive things will fill you up or deplete you. Consider how the things that go into your body will make you feel in the near future. Natural consequences can be a strong deterrent.
- Change the way you think about the habit: A bad habit is addictive because it provides us with a perceived value. As long as that perceived value remains in the forefront of your mind, overcoming the habit will be next to impossible. However, once you begin to consider what you are giving up because of the habit, you’ll have more incentive to change.
- Do you ever feel like you want to break your habit, but you just can’t convince yourself that you need to break the habit?
- Based on who you want to become, what habit do you want to break?
- 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?
- Read Proverbs 13:20. Who are the wise people you want to ask for help? When will you do it?
- What are some triggers you can interrupt? How do you remove the trigger? What’s something healthy you can do instead?
- Start doing. Commit to a step and live it out this week.
- What part of the message resonated with you? Any particular applications you took from today’s message?
Take One Thing Home with You:
One thing you can do with bad habits is to replace them with something better: Ephesians 4:22-24 says that we are to, “throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy..” Just as Christ ultimately wants us to replace our old selves with a new self, one of the best ways to overcome a bad habit is to replace it with something better. If you always snack on potato chips, the next time you go shopping stock up on carrots and celery. This allows you to continue snacking, without causing you to consume too many calories.
Overcoming a bad habit is never easy, but it is possible. Don’t be discouraged by failures. Get forgiveness from God by confessing any failure and dwell on God’s incredible love and grace. As long as you commit your will to Him, He will help you overcome.