Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own
business, and to work with your hands. 1 Thessalonians 4:11 NIV
“Well, that’s a bad habit.”
Has that ever been said to you, or have you thought it to yourself? Or, have YOU said it or thought it about someone else?
We usually think of habits as something bad – smoking, swearing, drinking, gossiping, complaining. You know what I am talking about. But, what about the flip side of that? Good habits. Joyful attitude. Thankfulness. Showing genuine interest in someone or something. Gushing over a friend’s success or your spouse’s new accomplishment. Or, engaging in your child’s new-found hobby (even if it involves reptiles or ballistics).
I think God has a lot to say about habits and habit forming as well as habit breaking. He gives us tools to form or break, as needed.
In the arena of suffering, one bad habit that is very easy to form and tough to break is talking about the suffering. Because our focus is all about the screaming pain. How to not see the flashing light in a room, the siren on the road or the mustard on someone’s lip? These glaring obvious distractions are just that – glaring and obvious. Our minds are riveted to them quite naturally. That mustard is VERY distracting until you say something. As an aside – are the kind that tells? Or not tells? For the record – I tell. I let my friend, family member, stranger anyone know that something is amiss. You’re welcome.
What I find refreshing is that God does not leave us to wonder what we are to do in regard to habit. Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, nails it when he instructs us to make it our ambition. This word ambition is philotimeomai in Greek and it means: to be fond of honor, i.e. emulous (eager or earnest to do something), to strive earnestly, make it one’s aim.
I would say that is a pretty good definition of habit. A good habit. God wants our lives to be governed by things that honor and glorify Him. He gives us opportunities to earnestly strive to please Him.
Find out what pleases Him. Ephesians 5:10
Sporting a new, good habit, indeed pleases Him. Choosing to praise rather than complain. Choosing to serve rather than take. Choosing to pray rather than fret.
But what happens when we find ourselves in the Romans 7 campground – For what I do is not the good that I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it (verses 19 and 20)?
NO LIES, NO FEAR, NO SHAME
We go to chapter 8 of Romans. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (verse 1). Nope. No shame. No guilt. We confess. He forgives. God moves on. And we must.
We all are sinners, and we will continue to sin, but that does not mean we have to stay trapped in it. We have a way out. His name is Jesus. He is our new Way. Our new habit, if you will. If we focus on Him, then even the glaring distractions pale in comparison to Jesus, the LIGHT of the world.
When we choose to please Him in our habits our lives reflect fruit. Sustainable fruit. Because the Spirit is producing that fruit in our lives. So my complaining has become like rotten fruit in my mouth and I no longer want it. In fact, it’s gross. I cannot wait to wash it out with the Word. There comes a time when I only want to have that sweet taste in my mouth so I choose to praise rather than complain.
JESUS - OUR SOURCE OF POWER
Habits take a long time to form, and also a long time to break. However, with the blood of Jesus covering all of this, that time came be shortened quite easily. Ever heard of a chain smoker quit in one instant? Jesus set him/her free. Or the wayward child at home no longer living on the streets? It does happen. And not by human power. No, it is the power of the mighty Saviour of the world.
We are gluten free in our home. So we have learned to eat gf for over 15 years. Any slip up and we basically go back to day one to become gluten free again. It takes 27 days for our bodies to restart that gluten free status again. Like forming a new habit. Our bodies are inclined to take the path of least resistance. Pretty soon we are craving that old stuff again – pasta, cookies, bread (oh those days!), and before you know it, we are in the same hole we tried to climb out of.
But, if we press into Jesus, make it our ambition to lead a quiet life doing what we know to do, pretty soon our lives are a reflection of Jesus doing a marvelous work in us. One that spreads joy, not grumps. One that oozes belief and not doubt. A life sold out for Christ – even in the midst of suffering. Because we have formed the good habits of praising God no matter the circumstance.
Father God, I want to please You in all I do - day in and day out. I want to be content with the quiet life at home that includes habits of worship, study, devotion, service and love. Thank You for defining how I can please You. And that You for giving me Jesus to do just that. AMEN