Forming godly habits are not about being a better person, they are about savouring and enjoying God through Jesus.
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
When I was at Bible College, Spiritual Disciplines was a compulsory subject in first year. The course taught us the value of forming good Christian habits, and what those habits should look like in practice. I don’t remember much of the course, except that godliness seemed horribly tedious, and that there was a really big gap between me and the victorious Christian life.
I tried getting out of bed to read the Bible & pray before dawn, but I was too tired to concentrate. I tried fasting, but only when I felt guilty about something. I tried going off by myself for a day of silence and solitude but I got bored and fell asleep.
Yet at that same point in my life, I was totally captured by the message of God’s cleansing, forgiveness and new life through Jesus’ death in my place. My heart and my mind had been completely transformed. I was at Bible College because I wanted to spend my life telling people about Jesus, helping them to connect with Him and receive the same life that I had received from Him. I couldn’t figure out why the habits of Christian living seemed so lifeless.
What I failed to grasp in my early Christian life was that godly habits (spiritual disciplines) are not cultivated by moral effort. They are habitual expressions of love for Jesus. I loved reading the Bible and talked with God throughout the day – just not so much at 5:00am. I could lie by myself for an hour or more, staring at the ceiling trying to comprehend how God could become man so that He could suffer & die to rescue people who hated Him. When I fasted, my grumbling stomach reminded me to think about my spiritual diet and grieve my inconsistent hunger for God.
Forming godly habits is about making the choice to savour and enjoy God on a regular basis. It’s learning to follow Jesus more closely irrespective of the cost. It’s about living the new life that He has given us: loving and honouring Jesus, who first loved us and gave Himself for us.
Head: Think about your motives for wanting to be a better follower of Jesus. Is it for your own sake, or for the sake of Jesus and others?
Heart: Jesus personally died for your sin and wrongdoing, and He is personally present in you through the Holy Spirit. How does that reality impact your desire to form godly habits?
Hands: Choose a time-based spiritual discipline (prayer, solitude, fasting, journaling etc.) and set aside three 45 minute timeslots in your week to begin learning the habit. Focus on savouring and enjoying God through Jesus.
Prayer: Lord, I don’t want to have impure motives: please give me a pure heart in my striving to live for you. Thank you that you are with me to give me all that I need to form godly habits that honour you. Help me to refuse selfish behaviour and to pursue habits that are consistent with the life that you bought for me at the cross and have delivered to me by your grace. AMEN.
A song to listen to: This Life I Live