Whether we like to admit it or not our life is basically built on habits. A habit is a practice which we have picked up or learned through consistent repetition. It is our way of life. It is the way we roll. The definition of a habit is ‘a settled or regular tendency or practice’. An example from scripture is found in Balaam’s lowly donkey.
28 Then the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?”
29 And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.”
30 And the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey, on which you have ridden all your life long to this day? Is it my habit to treat you this way?” And he said, “No.”
An example in my life was when I was in elementary school. I had a friend who constantly licked his lips on the right side of his mouth. Well being around him it was not long before I noticed that I consistently throughout the day would lick the corner of my mouth on the right side. I thought nothing of this until one day I noticed that the corner of my friend’s mouth was turning black. This was a little unsettling. I determined to stop the practice of licking the corner of my mouth. Well what is it that people say? Easier said than done. Boy are they right. I thought I would just stop, but nooooo. It took months of vigilant attention to break this seemingly insignificant habit. It took determination as I daily reminded myself to stop. I would catch myself beginning to give my lips a good ole lick and stop, chiding myself for lack of resolve. It was work but finally I reached a point where I was not licking the corner of my mouth.
Habits can be both good and bad for us. Generally speaking bad habits take very little effort to develop. We would say that we just fell into them. But the truth of the matter is that they develop in the heart of a sin sick person. On the other hand good habits take thought and discipline. Daily determination is needed to cultivate this habit for a person’s benefit.
As illustrated above, habits are hard to change. Habits which are not good for us become strongholds which can hold us prisoners. Paul relates such strongholds as running aimlessly [1 Corinthians 9:26]. We just habitually go through our day losing any direction or purpose. He states that people who have given their lives over to such habits develop futile minds and darkened understanding [Ephesians 4:17-19]. The first step to break down these harmful strongholds is to realize and admit that they exist and that they are not good for us [Ephesians 4:20-21]. Then a process can be put into place to remove an unwanted stronghold and replace it with one which is beneficial [Ephesians 4:22-25]. These strongholds can reside in every part of our lives, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Strongholds may reside in one area of our life, but they actually affect every area of our life. An example would be a stronghold of mentally unbelief that will keep a person from Jesus affecting their spiritual eternity, and it will wreck their physical life with sin. We choose whether or not to be held hostage by an unbelieving stronghold. Also we choose to allow the Holy Spirit to transform our minds by the renewing of His Word. To demolish a stronghold of unbelief one must not only fill his mind and heart with the truth of Yahweh, but also determinedly choose to meditate on this truth until it transforms their thinking process. Here is where we as believers fail so completely. We know the truth and can recite it but we have not dwelt on it to the point that a stronghold of belief and faith has been established upon which we live our lives. Faith and finances is a common example of this stronghold principle. We know what Yahweh says about having faith in Him but we remain anxious and stressed about the bottom line in our bank accounts.
We cannot allow destructive habits to remain in control of our lives. We have to determinedly retrain ourselves to live under the control of the Holy Spirit and not our habits [1 timothy 4:7-8]. We have to bring ourselves into a disciplined lifestyle [1 Corinthians 9:27]. A lot of self-control must be exerted to win the battle [1 Corinthians 9:25]. This transformation can only be completed as we humbly submit to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives so that self-control will become possible [Galatians 5:22-23]. The truth of Yahweh's Word cannot remain just knowledge, but it must become the way we think [Romans 12:2]. And therein the way we live.
We must acknowledge harmful habits and endeavor to remove them from our lives and replace them with godly disciplines which produce a life which reflects the glory of our awesome Yahweh.
Hugh Folds – Interim Pastor