Habits are those sub-conscious mental subroutines that help the conscious mind direct our actions. Let me give you an example that happened to me the other day.
Recently I tried to call a friend, and was more than a little surprised to hear the phone companies recorded message that the number I was dialing was no longer in service.
After a second attempt with the same results I was forced to admit I might have made a mistake when I dialed the number. When I compared the number I had actually dialed against my friends number I realized what had happened.
My friend’s area code starts with a nine, just as mine does. I had dialed the first digit of his area code and then habit took over and without even realizing it I had dialed my own area code and then the rest of his phone number. No wonder the phone system could not figure out how to find my friend. I had fallen victim to the force of habit and dialed the wrong number.
As a general rule good habits lead to good results but are hard to start and easily broken. On the other hand bad habits, which lead to less desirable results, are easy to start and hard to break. The Israelites certainly knew all about bad habits. The book of Judges gives us several excellent examples.
The Israelites had developed some bad habits. When things were going well they turned away from God. They ignored God’s laws and convinced themselves that they were the authors of their prosperity.
God would generally send a prophet to warn them and then after a while allow them to suffer the consequences of their actions.
Things would get bad and the people would repent and call on God. God would forgive them and rescue them. This happened seven times in the book of Judges alone.
I read somewhere that if you do something three times in a row you are on your way to making that a habit. The flip side being that if you don’t do something three times in a row you are also on your way to making that practice a habit.
As I wrote this we were in that part of the Christian year known as Advent. Advent is the four weeks leading up to Christmas and our celebration of Christ’s birth. As such advent is a time of preparation, a time for drawing closer to God. However, it is never too late to get started. In fact right now, when ever that may be, is an excellent time to strengthen, or even start some good habits. Get into the habit of reading the bible. Get into the habit of going to Church. Get into the habit of seeking God’s guidance for your life.
May the Lord bless you!
John R. Fowler is the Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Prosper.