Did you ever buy something through the mail, and then find yourself flooded with similar products within the next few months? Or, have you gotten a piece of mail with maybe your name spelled wrong, and soon, lots of companies are sending you junk mail with your name spelled wrong? Here’s why that happens:
Salespeople and marketers know that, whatever a person does once, he or she is likely to do again. If you bought shoes through the mail from Nike Shoe Company, it’s likely that you’ll be willing to buy shoes through the mail from New Balance Shoe Company. It’s possible that you might also respond to an ad selling socks by mail, or even sweaters. There’s a reason for that.
It’s called the force of habit. It makes us very predictable. Not only do sales people and marketers use it, but the Lord uses it as well. By the way, so do the flesh and the devil!
Everything that you and I do, and all that we become are the result of our habits, either good or bad. We have certain ways of working, certain kinds of songs we like and dislike. We habitually do the same types of things, do the same things well and make the same mistakes year after year.
In the Bible, Abraham was a man who had made a habit of walking close to God, being obedient, walking in repentance, and raising his children to do right. God had promised Abraham that as a result of his dropping the habits of disobedience, and his habitual obedience and faith, that God was still going to bless him – even though, God was going to judge Sodom and Gomorrah.
God told the angels that He was going to first tell Abraham what was going to happen. Abraham was a man of righteous habits and God knew how much He could trust Abraham. He said, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgement; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him (Genesis 18:19).
Habits are behaviors that we do almost automatically. Once we’ve done something, we’re very likely to do it again. And, again, unless something happens to stop that habit or change its direction. So, God was confident that Abraham was going to keep on doing as he had been doing. He didn’t want Abraham to change his behavior because of God’s judgement on Sodom and Gomorrah. That’s why God wanted to let Abraham know what He was about to do.
How did Abraham get to have this kind of trust and closeness with God? He made a firm decision and made a determined effort to obey God on a daily basis. You’ll find that in Genesis 12:16. That decision and consistent obedience changed his life.
Without a firm decision and a determined effort on our part, we will continue doing the same things and thinking the same things, spend our time the same way, and work the same way.
We’ll keep reading the same things, watching the same TV shows and hanging around the same people. Also, we’ll keep feeling the same way, treating people the same way and getting the same reactions we’ve gotten in the past.
Happiness and unhappiness, success and failure, spirituality and carnality have this in common: they’re all pretty much the result of habits. God says in Titus 2:7-8, “In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech that cannot be condemned…”
A pattern is something that is repeated, and predictable. Once you know the pattern, you know what comes next. At the traffic light, you know the pattern. If the light is green, you can be sure that the next color will always be yellow. After that, you can confidently accept red, and not green. What’s after red? Green, of course! You know the pattern!
Here, God’s talking to us about our patterns, our habits. He says in every area, we need to have the habit of good works. That’s what gives Him glory – when people see the good that’s at work in the different areas of our lives.
Jesus says it’s pattern of good works that brings God glory in the earth. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven (Matthew 5:16).”
That’s why the beginning of all good in life begins with a change of habits; a change of habitual ways of thinking, of habitual ways of speaking and habitual ways we behave. This is what repentance is all about. The word, “repent” literally means to change your mind or spirit.
There are certain habits you need to let go of, that you MUST be through with forever. There are other habits that you absolutely HAVE to form if you’re going to be the kind of person that you know in your heart God wants you to be. Remember the old adage, “Bad habits are easy to develop but hard to live with; Good habits are hard to develop but easy to live with.”
Being obedient to the Lord, walking in the Spirit, living a life of prayer are all habits you must develop. Being diligent, dependable, loyal, loving, even tempered, all these are nothing more than habits of the Spirit.
How do you get these godly habits? The same way you got the ungodly and destructive old habits: whatever thoughts, word or actions you repeat often enough become your habits. That means you and I can develop any habits we need to and can live habitually in a state of closeness to God and in obedience to His Word.
It’s a matter of choosing repeatedly to live in a way that’s consistent with the way you KNOW you ought to live. You do this long enough and hard enough that living hold and godly in this life becomes your new habit.
There’s really not much more to it than that. From the habits that God has set in your heart. Put them into motion in your life, and that’s what gives godliness the momentum that will streamline your life, your feelings, your thinking and even your spirituality.
There’s a momentum that being in the Word of God at the same part of each day, and praying at the same part of each day, and praying at the same time, and being in the House of God at the appointed times brings you: and it makes your life blossom. Once we’re in motion, we tend to remain in that motion. So, it takes very little to keep going the right way.
If it takes a pound of effort to get started, it takes only an ounce of effort to maintain the momentum. Make the firm decision. Take the determined effort. Establish the pattern of good works, so men may see them and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.
And, when the Father sees that you’re responding to Him, He’ll know He can count on you to be sensitive to His Spirit the next time. He’ll know he can trust you. It’s just a matter of habit!