Andy Stanley mentioned in a recent sermon, “Every habit begins with a first time.” It sounds obvious, doesn’t it? While obvious, I think it houses some profound truth. If every habit does indeed begin with the first time, then we must be ever diligent about what “first times” we are allowing to occur in our lives. I believe this is one reason why Paul encouraged us to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
If we don’t, we begin to create thought patterns that become more and more difficult to change as time goes by.But it’s not just our thoughts. Every action we take and every word we speak for the first time begins creating new habits. If we aren’t intentional about our thoughts, words, and actions, we will be creating new habits we don’t want to have.
What is most unfortunate is we already have a catalog of habits, many of which we don’t want. Speaking for myself, I have habits I never intended to have. If I would have been more purposeful, I would never have engaged in the thought pattern or activity the first time. Creating new habits is far easier than changing the old ones. It’s why it is so important we keep a careful watch on what we think, say, and do. At any moment, we have the potential to create a new habit. We can focus on creating new habits that honor God or be lazy and allow new habits to creep into our lives that do nothing to glorify Him or His Kingdom.
The next time you turn on the TV or fire up Netflix on your streaming device, be alert to the habit you may be creating. Is the programming honoring to God? Will the content you are consuming lead you to look more like Jesus, or less like Him? It’s not just TV and media of course; anything to which we give our attention becomes part of who we are. Anything we choose to look at is potentially creating a new habit. Is what has your attention something you want to make a habit of viewing? Again, habits are difficult t break once they are engrained in our brains.
I’ll bet you have a morning routine, don’t you? We all tend to do pretty much the same thing every day when we get out of bed. When was the last time you gave any conscious thought or energy to what you were doing? We operate on autopilot and muscle memory because our routines and habits have been with us for so long. How much of your morning routine, evening routine, or work commute is God-honoring? Most of us don’t have a lot of evil woven into our daily routines, but the truth is we don’t have much that is glorifying to God built in either.
Today, we could begin tossing out the old and creating new habits. We could become intentional about how we structure our routines. We could begin paying attention to what content we’re allowing into our minds. Perhaps we could set a guard over our eyes and tongue, determining to not view or say anything that violates God’s Word. I promise you it won’t be easy, but it will pay huge dividends in your relationship with Jesus. Creating new habits is essential. Stopping old habits will leave a void begging to be filled with new ones. Be purposeful. Be intentional. Begin creating new habits today that will result in you looking more like Jesus.