The Power of Habit

Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer. (Hebrews 10:25 GNT)

Isn’t it interesting that bad habits are easy to make and hard to break but good habits are hard to make and easy to break? I suspect it has to do with the fallen nature of Man. It seems like the natural trend is downhill. There is even a word for it in science, Entropy. The rule says entropy increases. This can be illustrated by organising a jar of marbles with all the blue marbles at the bottom and the red marbles at the top. One shake is all it takes to cause them to mix (disorder) and all the shaking in the world will never get them ordered again. There has to be some intervention.

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Paul talks about the habit of meeting together. Certainly it is a privilege to meet with other believers, to hear the word and to worship the Lord. However, sometimes if the kids have kept us up all night or we feel a cold coming on, it is really hard to even get out of bed on a Sunday morning. On those occasions the power of habit can get us going – especially if the rest of the family is in the same habit. If we skip one week, then it is easier to skip the next and before we know it we are out of the habit.

This principle applies to other aspects of life. I am not fond of exercise. In my mind I can still remember when I played in the second hockey team at my high school. The first thing we had to do was run around the field. I hated that. If we were late, we had to run several times as punishment so I associate exercise with punishment. However I am convinced that exercise is good for me and I tried to make it as easy as possible for me to get into the habit of going to gym four times a week. I found if I changed into my gym clothes when I have just woken up and am still half asleep, it is easier to go to gym before work. However the mornings are not my best time and I still have to fit in a quiet time. I promised myself that if I was running late, gym had to suffer, not my time with the Lord. As a result it sometimes happens that I only spend five minutes at the gym. This is better for the habit than to say, “O well, it is too late to go to gym now.” At lease I am reinforcing the actual drive to the gym routine.

One thing that has really helped a lot is the reward programme we have joined. If I go to gym fourteen times a month, my gym fees are refunded. This is quite a powerful motivation to keep in the habit.

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They say it takes 21 days to make a habit. I have even come across little printed pads where you write down the habit you want to make, tick it off each day and reward yourself at the end of each week if you met the criteria. Using this method I have tried to make myself more tidy, eat more healthily and be more organised. Sad to say, although I did manage to do some of these things for three weeks, I didn’t keep it up and now I am back to untidiness and eating things that I know are bad for me.

So we come back to the  question. Isn’t it interesting that bad habits are easy to make and hard to break but good habits are hard to make and easy to break? The problem is my fallen human nature.  I need intervention.

24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans &:24-25 NKJV)

Prayer

Dear Lord Jesus, Yours is the Power and the Glory. Please strengthen me through your Holy Spirit to be able to form good habits that glorify you and to break the slavery of bad habits which bring me down and do not glorify you. Thank you. Amen.

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