Habit

Art:

I COMPLETED THIS Acrylic last week, inspired by a photo of the painting that reminded me of Currier and Ives’ (1835-1907) black and white lithograph prints, of work by fine artists, that were then hand colored. Currier and Ives is especially popular at Christmas and Thanksgiving as they depict a simpler home era.

I decided to paint this picture in Acrylic because I can’t safely paint in Oil (due to the fumes) until warm weather permits Oil painting in the garage. Also, I felt it represented a good example for our Thought this week—Habit.  When we get past Covid days, I believe church participation to be a good habit. 

Thought:

What are Habits?

MY BELIEF IS, it’s never too late to make changes. However, January does seem most popular for such contemplation.  Changes often center around habits: those we wish to discontinue and those we wish to commences.  Sometimes, it amounts to a desire to replace a bad habit with a good one.  What about you? Do you have a habit you would like to replace for 2021? 

It seems most of what I hear or read about habits, is framed as ‘bad’ habits.  I decided to see what the Bible has to say.  Interesting!  The NIV Exhaustive Concordance records only four reference: two in each of the Old and New Testaments.  All four reference are of ‘bad’ habits.  So, what do we mean when we use the word?  Merriam-Webster defines habit as: 1. a settled tendency or usual manner of behavior. 2. an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.

What others have said:

  • “We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”  Aristotle, Philosopher
  • “Our character, basically, is a composite of our habits. The maximum goes… ‘Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character, sow a character, reap a destiny.’”  Stephen R. Covey, Author
  • Habits are like a cable.  We weave a stand of it every day and soon it cannot be broken.”  Horace Mann, Educator [They actually can be broken.]

Habit(s) for 2021

DID YOU IDENTIFY a habit you would like to replace for 2021?  You considered it a ‘bad’ habit.  Why? What makes a habit ‘bad’ rather than ‘good’?   Simple question, requiring an honest answer, probably beginning with reflection on some positive goal you can identify in your life.  If your “tendency or usual manner of behavior”—your habit,  is a tool fulfilling that goal, it’s a ‘good’ habit.  If it detracts from that goal, it’s a ‘bad’ habit. It becomes a “behavior that is nearly or completely involuntary” … in the wrong direction! Not good. 

Habit as an Intersection

ONE AUTHOR DEFINED habit as the intersection of knowledge, skill and desire. Here is my application for a follower of Jesus:

Desire: is the motivation, the want to do. Let’s assume your desire is to spend more time, this year than last, caring for your physical body by exercising (as an example).

Knowledge: is the theoretical paradigm, the what to do and the why.  Why? I am personally convicted that I am out of shape. I’m not being a good steward (or manager) of the body God graciously gave me.  What to do? Replace my bad habits with good habits.

Skill: is the how to develop and practice new habits that will support my Desire to be a better steward of my physical body.

I’ve inserted a fourth part to this ‘intersection’ I’m calling Capacity.

Capacity: is what puts Desire, Knowledge and Skill into practice. Capacity is the natural and supernatural power of you and God working in tandem.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength. –Philippians 4:13. 

Two Requests

IT’S MY CONVICTION, through study and personal experience, that changing a bad habit into a good one, for a follower of Jesus, will seldom be possible for the long haul, without ‘Capacity’.  The process of creating a good habit is going to require trusting the claim of James’ Epistle at two points. [If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5]

First: Ask God for wisdom in articulating your Desire, Knowledge and Skills and commit them to writing.

Second: Ask God to energize your ability to rely on your strength and His, in tandem, to actually experience this new 2021 habit! He will do it!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, Hebrews 12:1

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