Breaking Bad Habits
It has been said that bad habits are like easy chairs – easy to get into and hard to get out of. It seems so difficult to form good habits and so easy to fall into bad ones. They demand little effort and just sort of happen. And 2 Pet 2:19 reminds us … “a man is a salve to whatever has mastered him.” And Rom 6:16 points out “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one who you obey ..” In other words, watch out what controls your life. We are controlled by our habits – either good or bad.
Habits are formed by repetition. If one does something over and over enough times, it becomes a routine, a habit that is done without even thinking about what is being done. It makes sense that we are more likely to repeat things that we like doing, so it is important to be careful to ‘like’ the right things. If we want to develop a good habit, we have to make the effort to repeat the action often enough for it to become second nature to us. Likewise if we are to break a bad habit we must start by reducing the regularity of doing it. Breaking habits is hard. That is why the good ones are good and the bad ones are so bad – they are very hard to break.
The mind is the place where thoughts begin. We decide when and what information we will allow into our minds. Those decisions are our own – no one can decide for us. If we allow our minds to dwell on evil, on unsuitable material, those things will become the main focus of our thoughts. Mental addictions have been determined to be the most difficult to stop by those who study such things. We cannot keep bad thoughts from entering our minds from time to time, but we don’t have to invite them in and give them a place to stay. Ephesians 4:27 tells us “do not give the devil a foothold”. Too many not only allow the devil to enter their minds, they give him a place to sit, something to eat, and comfortable company to keep. The best habit that can be cultivated is to expel evil thoughts as soon as they enter the mind. These thoughts have no place in a Christian’s heart.
One of the best ways to keep the devil out of our thinking is to acquire the habit of regular Bible reading. Concentrating on the scripture puts God into our minds and leaves no room for the devil to invade our thinking. Psalms 119:10-11 “I seek you with all my heart, do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
We must also understand that it is easy to fall into the habit of repeating what you hear around you. If one is around those who use foul language and those who have no respect for the name of the Lord, those things will become part of your speech. We see language and actions tolerated by our society now that a few years ago would have been considered totally crude and unacceptable. Now it has become ‘fashionable’ to act or speak in such a way as to fit into our Godless society. But we do not need filthy words or swearing to express ourselves. As Christians we need to gain the habit of speaking and acting in such a way that we are unique and stand as salt and light in a tasteless, dark world. Bad habits are hard to break, but just as a horse had to be ‘broken’ to show it who was boss, so we must also make the effort to break our bad habits by the power of the Spirit who lives in us.
Provided by: Arlington Church of Christ, Mt. Healthy, OH – Cincinnati, OH