By: Jonie Buckley
Breaking up is hard to do. However, breaking up can be GOOD to do. Like breaking up with our bad habits, which include our thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors that are not God-honoring. These habits enslave us to sin. But, for those whose salvation is in Christ, we have the power in Christ to turn from sin through repentance and break up with our old way of living. Scripture reminds us of what we must PUT OFF, so we may PUT ON:
But you did not learn about Christ in this manner, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off the former way of life in the old nature, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that you put on the new nature, which was created according to God in righteousness and true holiness.
Ephesians 4:20-24 MEV
There is no better time than the present to hang up those bad habits and bid them farewell. Ask Holy Spirit to reveal those habits in your life, then immediately repent and call it quits. Throw in the towel. You are not on a break…you are DONE. If you are honest with yourself, you will acknowledge they did not serve you well, and they will not serve you well in the future. Draw the line in the sand as you repent and surrender each of those areas to Christ. Begin or return to walking in the redemptive freedom and grace Jesus gives in exchange for all of those!
My pastor has been encouraging us to pray, listen, and obey Holy Spirit. At the start of this year, I began a fast with the intent to listen astutely for Holy Spirit. I wanted to begin a lasting, healthy habit that would become a lifestyle of listening to Holy Spirit. I had developed a poor habit of being consistently chatty in our relationship. And while Holy Spirit longs to hear everything I have to say (Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath! Psalm 116:2 NLT), He has much to say to me as well. And I NEED to hear what He says, as much of my conversations with Him include my desire to hear Him and receive His wisdom as I purpose to do His will. The more I quiet myself, the more I can hear Him. I had developed a habit of not being quiet before God, making time, or even acknowledging the importance of listening to Holy Spirit, which then led to my next faulty habit – being slow to obey. Upon hearing from Holy Spirit, I would make the executive decision that I needed to verify I heard Holy Spirit correctly, ask Him for confirmation, and then concoct a handful of excuses to reason myself out of being obedient for the time being. Additionally, this truth hit me hard: slow obedience is no obedience.
I have a laundry list of added bad habits to say sayonara to – such as negative thought patterns, selfishness, insecurity, procrastination, attitude adjustments, people pleasing, and seeking easy or comfort over obedience, just to scratch the surface of my surrender. (Thereby reinforcing my need to talk to Holy Spirit about all of these things!)
Be reminded that you and I will need to hold the line here as this showcases our dependence on God’s grace and ongoing sanctification process. Bad habits, including attitudes, thoughts, and behaviors, are creepers. Characteristic of any habit, they tend to return, like a dog returns to his…well, you get the idea. They feel all-too-familiar as they may attempt to take up residence within us once again, as the enemy uses them to keep the character of Christ out of us. But when God delivers you from these bad habits, don’t keep in touch with them. When your bad habits call, don’t answer. They have nothing new to say. You know the value of the permanent breakup, but they do not. So you can count on them circling back, and you must actively kick them to the curb each time, no matter how comforting their familiarity. They are no longer welcome. You have put on your new nature in Christ Jesus. And He has already given you everything you need to resist their return by the power of Jesus Christ in you! (We have everything we need to live a life that pleases God. It was all given to us by God's own power, when we learned he had invited us to share in his wonderful goodness. 2 Peter 1:3) Here are the good, God-honoring habits to put on:
Be sincere in your love for others. Hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good. Love each other as brothers and sisters and honor others more than you do yourself. Never give up. Eagerly follow the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord. Let your hope make you glad. Be patient in time of trouble and never stop praying. Take care of God's needy people and welcome strangers into your home. Ask God to bless everyone who mistreats you. Ask him to bless them and not to curse them. When others are happy, be happy with them, and when they are sad, be sad. Be friendly with everyone. Don't be proud and feel that you know more than others. Make friends with ordinary people. Don't mistreat someone who has mistreated you. But try to earn the respect of others, and do your best to live at peace with everyone. Dear friends, don't try to get even. Let God take revenge. In the Scriptures the Lord says, "I am the one to take revenge and pay them back." The Scriptures also say, "If your enemies are hungry, give them something to eat. And if they are thirsty, give them something to drink. This will be the same as piling burning coals on their heads.” Don't let evil defeat you, but defeat evil with good.
Romans 12:9-21 CEV
Forgive me of my bad habits that I have become all too tethered to in this world. Search me and reveal anything in me that does not reflect Your image. Help me to release these to You now and in the days ahead, choosing to put on only what honors You, as You make me more like You. Amen.