Philippians 3:12-14 – Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus. (NIV)
Most of us can recall a time when we passed by a school that we attended earlier in life or a house that used to be our home, but is no longer. I have come to think of some of my habits like a house or school where I no longer have place.
Here is a partial list of old haunts: resentments nursed in unforgiving bitterness; fears projected into the future and pondered as worry; food items consumed even when I'm fully aware that my body finds them toxic; and sharp, careless words spoken in haste. Lately, this is what I have been doing about bad habits, based on several Scriptures:
Mark 11:23 – For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, "Be removed and be cast into the sea," and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. (NKJV)
2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (NIV)
Now when it dawns on me that I am visiting one of my bad habits, I speak to the habit like the mountain Christ talked about. I say, "Bad habit (by name), you are no longer for me. In the name of Christ, I say: be cast away into the sea of forgetfulness. I am with Him and in Him. I press on to win the prize in Christ Jesus."
When I find myself starting an unwanted behaviour, I can choose to stop and switch to a better substitute. I declare, "No, this bad habit (unforgiveness, worry, careless eating or words, etc.) is not for me anymore. I am a new creation in Christ! Yes! (Name the substitute) is for me. Thanks be to God!"
Some of my new "Yes!" places are: speaking blessing instead of brooding over old hurts; praising God as my most trustworthy Good Shepherd, then asking for His leading instead of worrying; choosing nourishing foods; and thinking about what is best so that I can make a solution or desired outcome the topic of conversation.
Time spent in prayer has helped me to see ways to bring substitutes for unwanted behaviour into my life. This understanding did not come in an instant. The Lord called and called for years. It's just in the past couple of months, though, that I have been able to put the process into words. Perhaps these principles may help someone who is looking for change. My writing about them helps me to solidify commitments I want to keep.
Prayer: May the Lord bless us and keep us. May the Lord make His face shine upon us and be gracious to us. May the Lord lift up His countenance upon us and give us His peace. Thank You, Father, for providing all the new beginnings (forgiveness) we need. Amen.
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