Good Habits Require Dedication And Hard Work

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

Nothing could be truer, right? If only we only understood that the same principle applies to our adult lives, too. Indeed, if we are willing to train ourselves, we can develop the habits that we would like to see in ourselves and other Christians. Even Aristotle agreed. He put it this way, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”.

Dr. Stephen Covey’s 1989 best seller, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, got me to wondering. What are the habits that highly effective Christians should have? I will admit that my list is not all-inclusive. There is any number of habits beyond the seven I will mention that should show up in our Christian life. So consider my list as nothing more than a good starting point for you to debate among yourselves.

I will discuss only three habits this week and follow up with the final four habits in next week’s column.

Habit #1: Trustworthiness: The worst witness a Christian can have is to be unreliable. When unbelievers see it in our lives, it leaves a bad taste in their mouths and becomes a turnoff to what we might want to say to them about the importance of Christian faith.

Being known as trustworthy is not just the first of twelve character traits that are taught to Boy Scouts. It was very important to Jesus as well. “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ Jesus taught. “And your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37) If it was this important for Jesus to mention with such emphasis, it simply has to show up in our walk with Him.

Habit #2: Humility: When I was first saved, I was so proud of what God had done in my life. I just had to share my pride with my friends. One of them kindly reminded me that pride was not what God wanted to see in my life. He kindly told me “Humility is the true mark of a Christian”.

How could one argue with him? The Bible could not be clearer. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)

The Apostle Paul also taught about humility. He had every reason to be proud. He was smart, well-educated, and – in his Jewish life – had won great respect among his peers. So much so that he was a Pharisee, a member of the ruling party of Jews in his day. Yet, Paul understood that he could never reach the lost through his accomplishments or the pride that goes with them. In his letter to the Church at Rome, he emphasized, “Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion”. (Romans 12:6)

Habit #3: Forgiving Spirit: It’s hard to understand. How can Christians justify carrying around all the
unforgiveness that we see them carry? Unforgiveness is unforgivable – at least that is what Jesus said. “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14)

Next week we will talk about 4 other habits that we must have to be known as highly effective Christians. Until then, ask the Lord to help these habits show up in your walk with Him.

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