1. We need to eat healthier and develop an appetite for God’s righteousness and His Word.
2. We need to exercise more in the disciplines of Bible reading and prayer.
This week I want to share with you some thoughts on a third resolution that I believe is absolutely necessary in order to impact God’s kingdom for His glory in 2016. This resolution may be the most difficult one to keep since it requires a complete change of one’s lifestyle. This resolution is about breaking bad habits and replacing them with good habits. When people list the “bad” habits they want to break, they usually center on things like smoking, drinking, eating too much, use of technology, too much TV, etc. etc. Again, millions of Americans say that they are determined to change these bad habits. However, very few are successful in actually breaking free of them. They may quit some things for a week or a month but then it seems like they not only fall back into the same old habits but the habits gain even a greater hold on their lives.
Why is it so difficult to break a habit and form a new one? It is because it requires the developing of a new mindset. I can remember hearing the little saying that goes this way.
Sow a Thought, Reap an Act. Sow an Act, Reap a Habit. Sow a Habit, Reap a Character. Sow a Character, Reap a Destiny!
When you look at trying to change habits, one must understand that it starts in the mind. A thought is planted and once it is planted and nourished, an act is harvested. Then when that act is sown over and over again, it brings forth a harvest called a habit. That habit is practiced (sown) again and again and it eventually becomes the person’s character. When that character is lived out over a period of time it results in the person reaping a destiny.
What Am I Thinking?
Our thoughts about any area of life are seeds that we are planting in our hearts that will eventually result in a harvest of certain acts. These acts will eventually become habits that characterize our lives. Paul explains the importance of thinking right in Romans 12:2 where he writes, Don’t be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind! We must realize that what we sow we will reap. We must sow good thoughts in 2016 if we want to break bad habits that are hindering our walk with the Lord.
If we don’t change our thinking, we can’t expect different results in our habits and in our lives. I have heard it said that too many Christians sow wild oats all day and then pray for a crop failure. Instead we need to change our thinking. Here is where the first two resolutions that I wrote about the past two weeks comes into play. If we don’t eat healthier and develop an appetite for God’s righteousness and His Word, we will never be able to change our thinking. The same is true regarding our exercise. Changing one’s thinking won’t take place without our spiritual lives being strengthened through regular exercise centered on reading God’s Word and spending time in prayer.
In order to be successful in any attempt to break bad habits and establish good habits, we must renew our minds by sowing thoughts that are grounded in the truth of God’s Word. As we do this we will begin reaping biblically based acts. Then we must continue sowing those right actions, all the time still sowing good thoughts, so that we can see a harvest of good habits. Once we see such a harvest, it is important to continue sowing those good habits until we reap a godly character.
You might be asking yourself how long will this process take? When can I see success in breaking bad habits and developing good habits. My former pastor taught me that it usually takes 21 or more straight days of practicing an act before it can become a habit. I have found that this is a good target to aim at when trying to accomplishing this change in thinking and acting. It is difficult to renew one’s mind. But with determination and perseverance, it can be done. Charles Spurgeon reminds us that by perseverance the snail reached the ark. If we have the resolve and rely on God to do a work in our lives, we can tear down bad habits and rebuild our lives founded on good and godly habits.
Next week I am going to discuss what I believe to be the biggest bad habit that Christians are practicing in the Western church today. This one habit is affecting how we educate our children, how we set our goals in life and how we measure success and happiness. I pray you will join me next week as I tackle this bad habit.
I look forward to receiving your comments about our need to renew our minds and break bad habits.