Breaking Your Hardest-to-Break Habit
Speaking of personally dug holes, ever tried to take sand out of one? It’s almost comical. You dig and dig and dig and with each handful of sand you remove, more slides in to takes its place. Sometimes trying to remove a habit from your life is just like that . . . until you begin to use substitutes.
One of the keys to eliminating a poor habit is to substitute it with a good one. Dieters do this all the time. Crave a candy bar? Eat a fresh, crisp apple instead. Drooling over that mound of fettuccine Alfredo at the next table? Double your order of angel-hair pasta with marinara sauce.
Christians have available to them an arsenal of powerful weapons with which to do battle with destructive habits.
Prayer is our first line of defense. It should be far more than a daily ritual. The apostle Paul admonishes us to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). That means be in constant contact with God so that when a damaging habit knocks for attention, we’re already in contact with the one power in the universe that can help us overcome the temptation. “For my strength is made perfect in your weakness” God tells us through Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9.
Fasting causes us to shift our focus off the obstacles that may be standing in our way-obstacles that are keeping us from making that direct connection with God. Remember that fasting as presented in the Bible doesn’t necessarily mean giving up food for a day or week. The workaholic who’s neglecting her family could force herself to leave the office with everyone else each day for a month. The tax cheater may choose to find a reputable accountant to prepare his return for the next three years. See what I mean? Fasting is a serious weapon against a destructive habit.
Studying God’s Word will bring to light an endless array of answers to troubling questions. No, it doesn’t have to be a “religious” thing. There are no rules about when and how long you should read the Bible. The key is to open the pages of this amazing book with questions already in mind. Then, as you read, you work to apply what you’re discovering to the particular habit you’re battling. The results of this powerful substitute will astound you!
Slaves of a New Master
A woman reaches for a cigarette while her 2-week-old-daughter sleeps in the bassinet beside her. Her hand stops midway to the coffee table as her love for her child and the realization of her great worth to her heavenly Father overcome her desire for a smoke. With a smile, she bends low and kisses the cheek of the sleeping child.
A man leaves his family behind and drives into the city looking for his next drug fix. But before he makes his first purchase, he speeds toward home again, stopping only long enough to buy special gifts for his wife and children, using the money he’d earmarked for his habit. He’s determined to be the husband and father he promised to be.
A pastor powers up his computer and clicks on a link that will carry him to a popular porn site. But before the first lurid picture can download, he shuts off the machine, unplugs it from the wall, and walks away. It’ll be months before he connects to the Internet again.
A married businesswoman glances at a handsome coworker and allows herself to wonder what it would be like. . . Then she looks away as a silent prayer shouts from her heart. Instantly, she’s filled with the comforting presence of her Creator, whose unlimited power helps her resist the temptation and begin to live a life based on purity and faithfulness.
These destructive habits have been broken because the people who struggle under their weight have strengthened their connection to the God they love.
“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life” (Romans 6:22, NIV).
*Texts credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.