Biting one’s finger nails is definitely not a GOOD habit to practice. My mom use to tell me [my wife too], “Look at the ends of your fingers–that’s terrible!” As I am blogging right now, I am looking at my finger nails, seeing that habit visualized– after 65 plus years of practicing.
A Princeton University study claims, “if you do the same thing every day for 28 consecutive days, it will become a habit.” The key to that study are the words, “do the same thing every day–consecutively”!
So whether you call it good or bad, or someone else says it’s good or bad, it still can be called a habit; a “custom“, doing as you usually do continually.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s quote on habits reads, “The second half of a man’s [or woman’s] life is made up of nothing but the habits he [or she] acquired during the first half.”
We first make or develop habits, then they remain in life. And, if we don’t practice them, we will forget doing them. The Letter of Paul to the Roman believers makes the point even clearer:
“For I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do, but the evil deeds that I do not desire to do are what I am [ever] doing” (Romans 7:19).
“So I find it to be a law (rule of action of my being) that when I want to do what is right and good, evil is ever-present with me and I am subject to its insistent demands. For I endorse and delight in the Law of God in my inmost self [with my new nature]. But I discern in my bodily members [in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh] a different law (rule of action) at war against the law of my mind (my reason) and making me a prisoner to the law of sin that dwells in my bodily organs [in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh]” (Romans 7:21-23–Amplified Bible). [my emphasis].
The words emphasized; practice, rule of action used in the Amplified Bible, can be applied to GOOD and BAD habits in life. What habits do you have right now? Where is your life heading?
BEING “IMITATORS” OR “FOLLOWERS” OF JESUS
In Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, the Greek word for “imitate, imitator” is the verb mimeomai: “a mimic, an actor” (Eng., “mime”, etc.), is always translated “to imitate“, “to follow,” (a) of imitating the conduct of missionaries, 2 Thess. 3:79, the faith of spiritual guides, Heb. 13:7; (b) that which is good, 3 John 11. The verb is always used in exhortations, and always in a continuous tense, suggesting a constant habit or practice.”
We are constantly reminded to follow Christ Jesus, not only in word but also practice His actions, His doings, and yes, even His habits. “THEREFORE BE” in the The Letter of Paul to the Ephesians, the church at Ephesus, is an exhortation” and reminder to be imitators:
“THEREFORE BE imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father].
My earthly father has “good habits” and “bad habits” to follow over the years and at 96 years old, I’m not going to list them. But hopefully, I have been an “imitator” of his “good habits” more so than his bad. We know that Jesus didn’t have any “bad habits”, so lets look in depth atf His habits; His examples and practices to imitate in our own lives.
THREE DIFFERENT VERSES ABOUT JESUS’ HABITS
1. MARK 10:1– “as was His custom“
2. LUKE 4:16– “as was His custom“
3. LUKE 22:39– “as was His habit”
Notice the similarities of the three different verses about Jesus?
He tended to do certain things over and over again. He taught, “as was His custom”; He went to the Synagogue on the Sabbath, “as was His custom”; He prayed on the Mount of Olives, “as was His habit”.
“As was His custom” or habits, is a very small phrase but in between the lines of the story of Jesus’ life as told by, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, you’ll find the following keys:
1. Jesus’ habits.
2. Jesus’ customs.
3. Jesus’ practices.
Summing up brieflyJesus’ habits: Jesus spent regular time with God; He “hung out with God!”
“And in the morning, long before daylight, He got up and went out to a deserted place, and there He prayed.”
Jesus began the day in seclusion, before His Father, to be recharged–spiritually, physically, emotionally; to be silent, yet still listening for God to speak. I practiced that example this morning. Instead of doing all the talking, I talked and then listened. It’s a dialogue and not a monologue when it comes to prayer.
SOLITUDE AND PRAYER–THE HABIT OF SECLUSION
“Now in those days it occurred that He went up into a mountain to pray, and spent the whole night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12).
He got away from the distractions that had occurred around Him; the hustle and bustle of the city and spent the night in the wilderness.
A note to any Pastors who might be reading this right now–When was the last time you got away from it all; away from study, away from religious seminars and church conferences? Just you and God alone in a park, on a trail, on a lake, on a beach, or …on a mountain?
Luke goes on to say Jesus didn’t just spend the night by Himself, but He prayed ALL night. He didn’t spend the evening “day dreaming”; He spent the time talking to God (conversational prayer).
Communicate with God consistently, as your custom. Prayer is the most powerful force in the world. As long as there is prayer, there is hope! Living in an atmosphere of prayer (a ‘habitat’), is not only praying at a set time but spontaneously anytime and anywhere.
The disciples of Jesus were eavesdropping on His prayers. They did a connect-the-dot thing, connected to Jesus’ power and back to His prayer life. That’s why they said, “Lord, teach us to pray…” (Luke 11:1).
THE “HABIT” OF WORSHIP
Put nothing ahead of or instead of God!
The Bible teaches us when we put God first, everything else in our lives falls into its proper place. How can that be true with all that is happening around us today? That is a promise from God in Matthew 6:33:
“But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides” (Amplified Bible).
THAT’S A PROMISE! Become a worshipper, both privately and corporately. Church is important, but don’t forget God Monday thru saturday. God is not a Sunday compartment; He desires to be included in every area of your life, everyday!
PRAYER and CONFESSION
I remember when I was in 9th grade, some friends and I decided we would skip school one day; make it a long weekend. That ‘one day’ turned into more than just ‘one day’. It became habitual! A monthly ritual!
My parents were both at work that ‘one day’, so the boys decided my house would be the one where we would all ditch school. Unfortunately for us in those ‘olden days’, there were Truant officers; the school DETECTIVES, not the Word Detectives. We were caught red-handed and we were all going to have to face the penalty. Stood up in front of a firing squad and shot blind-folded, and that was the good news! The bad news was to face our parents with the truth or ‘sort-of-the-truth’.
When my mom got home from work that night, the first thing she asked me was, “How was school today?” The school must not have informed her of my escapades and I was stuck with the answer. Do I tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth or make up a story? A lie!
In growing up, my training was quite clear; mom and dad were always truthful with my brother and I, therefore I should be also and the punishment would be less severe if I followed their examples. Sheepishly I confessed, “Mom, I got caught with some of my friends ditching school today.” To my surprise she said, “Really. Was this the first time?” Mom, please don’t go there, it’s hard enough to admit I was wrong. “Uh…NO, it wasn’t the first time.” And then I was totally taken back with her response. “Mel, I hope you have learned a lesson from all of this. Thank you for being so forthcoming.” I found out later that night, the school vice-principal had called her at work and revealed the entire happening. She wasn’t lying, she just wanted to see if all the teaching and training had come to fruition; that I would reveal the truth without her confronting me with what she already knew.
Jesus taught His followers to confess their sins; missing the mark to God in prayer. The clearest place where Jesus teaches His followers this habit and practice is in the Lord’s Prayer. Luke tells the story this way:
“THEN HE was praying in a certain place; and when He stopped, one of His disciples said to Him, Lord, teach us to pray [just] as John taught his disciples. And He said to them, When you pray, say; Our Father Who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done [held holy and revered] on earth as it is in heaven. Give us daily our bread [food for the morrow]. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us [who has offended us or done us wrong]. And bring us not into temptation but rescue us from evil” (Luke 11:1-4–Amplified Bible).
Confession is simple telling the truth to God; what you’ve done. Confession is also taking time to let God show you where you have not lived up to the kind of LOVE God desires of you.
MORE Good Habits to Practice in Part 2.