If I were to ask you what are some of the bad habits people need to break in 2016, I imagine I would get a pretty long list. Out in the world the bad habits listed may center around things like drinking too much alcohol, smoking, eating too much, watching too much TV or wasting time. Christians may mention habits like not spending time in God’s Word, being in debt, prayerlessness and/or being silent in their witness to the lost.
It is true that these bad habits and others that you might come up with need to be broken and good habits need to take their place. However, I believe that there is one habit that plagues the majority of Christians that is the most dangerous of all bad habits. One of the reasons this bad habit is so dangerous is because it is so insidious. By this I mean it is a habit thathas a host of
The one habit I believe we must break and replace it with a good habit is the habit of looking at life from a totally temporal perspective! Now that I have said this, have you thought of this being a dangerous and insidious bad habit? Yet, if we were honest with each other, we would have to admit this is a habit that we all practice on a regular basis in our everyday lives. One reason why this is such a common habit in our lives is that we live in an existential world. This life is all there is and we must make the best of it while we are here. There was even a commercial many years ago that used the tag line, You only go around once in life so grab all the gusto you can. Consider the following questions to determine if you have fallen into this habit:
- What do you think about when you begin each day?
- What are the most common things that occupy your mind and your actions throughout an ordinary day?
- When was the last time when you rose from your night’s sleep that you asked yourself is this the day that Christ will return?
- What is on your mind when you go to bed at night?
If you are like me, we think about a long list of things we need to do when we start a day. What will we eat? What is the weather going to be? What meetings do we have and are we prepared for them? Even when we try to think about the future, we limit our thinking to the next week, month, year or, at the best, several years down the road. Yet we all know that this life is very short compared to eternity. In fact, this temporal life is really mere preparation for real life that will begin once we die.
Paul warned us about the brevity of this life when he wrote in Romans 13:11, Do this, knowing the time, that is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. We also read in several passages of Scripture that compare this life to a “vapor” and to a “shadow” that both appear and all of a sudden vanish. What is left – ETERNITY!
The habit of looking at life from either a temporal of eternal perspective impacts every area of one’s life. The time perspective of how I look at life affects:
- how I view my work. Work is either a calling from the Lord that allows me to glorify God by what I do or just a job I have to make money in order to pay my bills.
- how I view my possessions. Money and stuff are either things I strive to acquire more and more of each day/year that will eventually rust. Or my possessions are things that I can use to impact God’s kingdom and be a good steward of them in order to store up treasures in heaven where moth and rust cannot destroy. Tithing would never be an issue for a Christian who has the habit of always looking at life from an eternal perspective.
- how I view sin. We know that sin is pleasurable for a season. When I am constantly looking at life from a temporal perspective, I will not consider the consequences of sin. When I am conscious of eternity each day, it acts as a deterrent to sin as I know that I will stand before a holy God and will have to give an account for my sin when life ends.
- how I view others. A temporal view of life allows people to be self-focused rather than other-focused. My enjoyment and fulfillment is what is important to me and I need to enjoy life to the fullest today because you only go around once in life. But when I have an eternal perspective, I view others with compassion and concern over where they will spend eternity. Witnessing to friends and loved ones would have a high priority in my life if I woke up each day with an eternal perspective on life.
- how I view education. A temporal view of the future dictates that education is to prepare me to get into a good college so that I can get a good job in order to live a comfortable lifestyle. On the other hand, an eternal perspective of life looks at education as a process where one comes to know God, find one’s calling from God and seek to fulfill God’s will for one’s life so that God will be glorified in all one does. Giving children a secular education would not be an option.
So how do we break the bad habit of looking at life from a totally temporal perspective and replace it with the good habit of looking at life from an eternal perspective? We must remember that breaking a bad habit and replacing it with a new habit begins with a change of thinking. Paul gives us great instruction on breaking this bad habit and setting a new habit when he writes the following:
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:1-2
When you “set” something, it means to put something in a particular place or position. We are to “set” our hearts and our minds on a very particular place – eternity.
John Piper gives us some practical steps we can take to make sure we establish an upward eternal perspective on life rather than a horizontal temporal perspective. The first step is to recognize our need for setting our minds on things above. We must recognize that there are many competing claims upon our minds and our attention, and we must resolve to find a time and a place where we will not be bombarded by TV, radio, the telephone, or the internet.
Next we must give ourselves to setting our minds on things above by meditating upon and memorizing Scripture. As we read the Scriptures we ought to pray, “O Lord, open my eyes to see yourself and the wonders that you are and the wonders that you promise.” These are the things of heaven. And in this way we will become more heavenly minded because we are saturating our minds with the things of God, the words of Scripture.
Finally, ask questions. Ponder. Ask how it relates to your family, your children, your singleness, your job, your leisure, so that all of your life takes on a Godward focus, a Bible saturation, and an exaltation of Jesus Christ.
When you consider how you look at your work, possessions, sin, other people and the education of your children, what does it indicate as to where you have “set” your heart and your mind? Does it show you that you have a bad habit to break and new habit to start? If so, start breaking that habit today by setting your heart and mind on things above – on eternity. It will change how you live all of life.
Have a great 2016 as you resolve to eat healthier, exercise more and break bad habits!