Some of us have weird habits. Maybe they’re mild and quirky—the kind of thing we admit when we aren’t afraid to laugh at ourselves. Perhaps they’re a bit stranger, like something we might only disclose to someone we trust. Many of them seem to be fairly innocuous. Take the following list as an example, where various people on Twitter confessed their idiosyncrasies:
- “My car radio volume has to be an even number or a multiple of 5.”
- “Every time I get in my car, I make sure I check the backseat because I don’t wanna get choked out from behind.”
- “If someone sneezes around me, I hold my breath for like 15 seconds till all of their germs disperse in the air away from me.”
- “Does anyone else feel guilty or like a criminal when walking out of a store without buying anything?”
We have habits for everything, including eating breakfast, getting dressed, and interacting with other people. Quirky habits can be pretty comical, but good habits are essential to our lives. Since it’s the start of the New Year, let’s look at three things we need to work on for 2022.
Commit Yourself to Reading the Bible
There’s no doubt that mature Christians know the Bible. They know it because they read it. Why is this important? Because that’s where we find life (cf. Deuteronomy 30:19):
Proverbs 4:20-22 – My son, be attentive to my words;
incline your ear to my sayings.
Let them not escape from your sight;
keep them within your heart.
For they are life to those who find them,
and healing to all their flesh.
With practice, you and I will become more mature readers of the Bible. We’re going to understand it more thoroughly and more deeply. We’re going to make connections that we didn’t make before. The Bible is not just the word of God; it’s also a very sophisticated work of literature. And the more thoroughly we understand it, the more of its value we will appreciate. That means not only relishing in our status as God’s children but knowing how to conduct ourselves in a way that honors him.
Spend More Time with God
When we read through the Gospels, we see that Jesus had one habit that stands out: he often spent time in prayer. Luke tells us, “he would withdraw to desolate places and pray” (Luke 5:16). He also often spoke about prayer (Matthew 6:5-13). But prayer isn’t the only religious activity that biblical characters often did. Jesus also made it his habit to go to the synagogue for worship. Luke also tells us, “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read” (Luke 4:16). It seems that Paul made it a custom to evangelize in the synagogues found in the places he visited: “And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures” (Luke 4:16).
Unfortunately, some early believers had bad habits. The writer of Hebrews talks about this when he commands his audience to refrain from “neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25). We should cultivate the habit of wanting, desiring to spend more time with God and with each other.
Prevent Sin from Becoming Habitual
Sin is a plague upon mankind. It is responsible for every problem in this world. It is the genesis of every war, conflict, and trouble. Jesus tells us, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34). The more comfortable with sin we are, the more of a slave we become. We can see this in the life of ancient Israel. The period of the Judges was a death spiral into disobedience, apostasy, and evil. Even during the period of the monarchy, Israel was troubled constantly by wicked rulers who helped steer the nation down the path of destruction.
There is one thing we all have to remember: sin did to Israel nationally what it has the power to do to you and me individually. That is why Paul warned, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13).
Building New Habits for a New Year
We can do several things to build healthy habits for this year.
- Start by building awareness. This requires self-reflection. Pay attention to your current habits and examine them critically. Have someone else help, like a trusted friend or family member. This will take some humility because we like to celebrate our accomplishments; we don’t typically enjoy people pointing out where we need to improve.
- Commit to making the change. Don’t just sit there and wish or dream. Start taking the steps necessary to make that change in your life. Don’t just let life happen to you – take charge.
- Start small. Be very specific, and begin by introducing small changes. Just do 1% each day, and that 1% will add up over time until you realize what you have envisioned for yourself. Start with something daily that will take only two minutes so that you can get that habit going.
- Strive for excellence, not perfection. It’s easy to set lofty goals and then get crushed when we fall short. We want the best version of ourselves, but we might be tempted to set unrealistic expectations. And if we miss enough of our targets, it might derail our efforts altogether. So don’t strive for perfection; just strive to be better.
- Remember the “why.” Why are you doing it? Reading the Bible, spending more time with God, and keeping sin from becoming habitual are all extremely important. Why? Because we want to grow as Christians, and all of these behaviors will help us get there.
I hope that you have had a great start to the New Year, and I pray that you build some better habits that will help you become a more capable, more encouraging, and more effective servant of God for 2022.