There are no Instant Habits
By Rick Warren
— July 24, 2009
“Practice these things. Devote your life to them so that everyone can see your progress” (1 Timothy 4:15 GWT).
While you were given a brand new nature at the moment of conversion, you still have old habits, patterns, and practices that need to be removed and replaced.
We are afraid to humbly face the truth about ourselves. I have already pointed out that the truth will set us free but it often makes us miserable first.
The fear of what we might discover if we honestly faced our character defects keeps us living in the prison of denial. Yet, we often build our identities around our defects. We say, “It’s just like me to be” and “It’s just the way I am.” The unconscious worry is that if I let go of my habit, my hurt, or my hang-up, who will I be? This fear can definitely slow down your growth.
Only as God is allowed to shine the light of his truth on our faults, failures, and hang-ups can we begin to work on them. This is why you cannot grow without a humble, teachable attitude.
Godly habits take time to develop. Remember that your character is the sum total of your habits. You can’t claim to be kind unless you are habitually kind—you show kindness without even thinking about it. You can’t claim to have integrity unless it is your habit to always be honest. A husband who is faithful to his wife most of the time is not faithful at all!
Your habits define your character. There is only one way to develop the habits of Christlike character: You must practice them—and that takes time! There are no instant habits. Paul urged Timothy, “Practice these things. Devote your life to them so that everyone can see your progress” (1 Timothy 4:15 GWT).
If you practice something over time, you get good at it. Repetition is the mother of character and skill. These character-building habits are often called “spiritual disciplines,” and they include such things as meditation, prayer, fasting, Bible study, simplicity, stewardship, solitude, submission, service, and evangelism.