Breaking Bad Habits
By David Brandt Berg
Everyone has weaknesses. That’s part of being human and imperfect. When you entertain a habit long enough, it becomes part of your nature—and that’s the scary thing about bad habits.
But the good news is that the Lord can turn those weaknesses into strengths, so what was once a bad habit can be replaced by a good habit.
Besides bad physical habits, there are all kinds of wrong attitudes and behavior that can become habitual and do even more damage to you and others, such as thinking negatively about yourself or your circumstances, being critical of others, being rude or inconsiderate, being unwise or unloving in your speech, getting in a rushed or pressured spirit, or being angry or impatient. There are also bad habits that affect your spiritual life and relationship with the Lord, such as neglecting Him and His Word.
Habits can either take root for good or bad, and if it’s for bad, they can become very difficult to change for the better—difficult but definitely not impossible, with the Lord’s help. Jesus is always willing and able to do the impossible. It takes an impossible situation for Him to do a miracle, but He loves to work that way because it causes you to recognize His miracle-working hand.
That’s the wonderful thing about Jesus and His power: He can overcome anything—any sin, any problem, any bad habit, or any negative personality trait. There’s nothing too hard for Him; He will deliver you from whatever bad habit you’ve formed if you put your will on His side and determine to work on it until together you win the victory.
It will take work on your part, but most of all you have to pray for His help. Ask Him not only to do what you can’t do, but also to show you specifically what you can and need to do to get over whatever bad habit is hindering you. You have to believe what He tells you, and then you need to go to work and do what He shows you, because if you don’t try, He can’t do the miracle.
It’s impossible to change through your own human strength, especially if you’ve allowed the bad habit to go on for years. Longstanding habits can become second nature. They become part of your personality, part of your nature, so you hardly even notice or recognize that they’re there.
Or if you do recognize them, they can be a source of terrible discouragement. You begin to think that things can never change, because that’s just the way you are. But really you weren’t that way before you allowed that bad habit to form, so of course you can change it if you’re willing to get serious with the Lord and work on it.
For example, people who have had a problem with thinking negatively most of their lives usually find it very difficult to break that habit. Nevertheless, many have overcome it through the Lord’s power and Word and are now positive thinkers with a whole new outlook on life. They’ve been transformed and no longer have that old negative mindset (Romans 12:2).
So if you’ve formed some bad habit by repeatedly acting or reacting a certain way, the sooner you ask the Lord to help you, the better. You might think you’re beyond hope and there’s no use trying, but that’s not so. Every time you catch yourself, ask the Lord for help, and make a conscious effort to not give in to your bad habit, you’re forming a good habit that will eventually take root and grow until it crowds out the bad habit.
If a bad habit has gotten to the point that you’re not sure what to do about it, the first thing you need to do is ask the Lord for His thoughts on it. Ask others too—people you’re close to and respect, or someone who has the good quality or habit you hope to replace your bad habit with.
It’s also important to look to the Lord for encouragement along the way, because sooner or later you will most likely get discouraged and feel like giving up. Ask Him for some promises to claim—specific ones about how He will help you break that particular bad habit. Keep a record of the specific instructions the Lord gives you, as well as the encouraging promises He gives, so you’ll have something to refer to if you don’t seem to be making progress or are tempted to quit.
It’s much easier to overcome bad habits if you go to work on them as soon as you notice them forming. That’s why it’s so important to take stock of your life regularly. Get in the good habit of asking the Lord every day or two how you are doing and what things you need to change before they become habits that will be much harder to break.
You have to make a commitment to continue to work on breaking that bad habit until it’s gone. And remember, if you want it badly enough and do your part, the Lord will always do His because He loves you and wants you to be happy and free from the problem. Do your part, and He’ll do His!
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