As usual, I woke up and began to make some coffee for myself. Suddenly I realised (before I had poured in the water and milk) that I had actually put salt into my mug instead of sugar. I was rather surprised but couldn’t help laugh at my blunder. It didn’t make sense though as I had been making my coffee here at my friend’s place for nearly 2 months! Why that day out of all days did I take the salt container instead of the sugar?
It turned out that the salt container is usually kept on the shelf below. The house help had inadvertently placed it next to the sugar container. Ok, so that explains why I hadn’t taken the salt before. However, it still didn’t make sense that I would still do so, given the fact that the containers were far from being alike. In fact the sugar was stored in a white plastic container decorated with red and green circles on it.. and with a red lid, while the salt container was made of ever silver. Was it merely absent mindedness on my part?
Anyway, a little later it struck me big time! My mum used to store sugar in a container very similar to the salt container here. I thought it was quite ironical to say the least that I would by habit pick that up when placed near the actual sugar container given the fact that my mum passed away many years ago, and I have moved around so much in various houses and countries for that matter.
Wow, they don’t say “Old habits die hard” for no reason do they? This was a simple thing and really didn’t have adverse consequences so to say the least. However, isn’t our Christian walk like this?
Often we go back to our old way of life… Most of the time it isn’t intentional that we don’t even realise we are doing it. Or even if we do realise, it’s sometimes so difficult to get out of these patterns and we beat our heads over it.
Our brains have got so accustomed to certain things… what we learnt at school (ya, I know if only that knowledge doesn’t get suppressed / hidden for some strange reason when it comes to exams), what our parents taught us, what society impresses on us, what we observe around us through culture, religion, traditions, media, peer pressures… Knowingly and unknowingly we “LEARN” stuff and it gets fed and embedded into our brains consciously or subconsciously. And yes, old habits die hard indeed….
It apparently takes 21 days (some say 2 weeks) to undo a certain habit. However, there are often underlying root causes that need to be dealt with in the first place as many habits are ‘symptoms’ of something deeper. The good thing is God understands… All He wants from us is a contrite and broken heart… that yields to Him and clings to Him.. desiring to surrender it’s all to Him…
Through the blood of Jesus Christ, God forgives us… and through the work of the Holy Spirit, God will gently lead us to the right path – only if we are surrendering. It takes time, but it will happen slowly but surely. Don’t condemn yourself if you are stumbling… Don’t let others condemn yourself either. God sees the broken heart while others see the patterns of appearances… And once again, as I keep repeating myself, there are also times when appearances can reveal deeper issues!
It is always good to seek the counsel of many as others see the blind spots in us that we don’t see. However, not all counsel no matter the source and no matter the motivation (out of love, for your good, or for selfish reasons), are necessarily what God wants for your life. His plans are bigger and better.
Whatever you hear, whether it’s a counsel or prophecy test it against God’s Word.. Always ask yourself, “Is it in line with GOd’s nature and attributes?”
Yes, old habits linger on… We need to break habits that are contradictory to God’s Word. So how do we do it? Yup it does help to hear people out and their opinions. Yet don’t take it to heart without first taking it to God and testing it against God’s heart. His plan for your life doesn’t necessarily align with your plan for your life let alone the one that your parents or your “leaders” have for you.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2
We have to stop or rather decide and endeavour to stop from conforming any longer to the pattern of this world! What is the pattern of this world? The world trends, our cultural influences, family traditions, Christian empires that promote their ways and their plans rather than surrendering people to God’s ways and God’s plans… These are patterns of this world… We need to decide to stop conforming to that.
When Jesus’ disicples were questioned by the Pharisees why they weren’t conforming to the traditions of the elders, Jesus spoke up! He address them as hypocrites who were holding on to traditions of men letting go of God’s commands (Mark 7:1-23). The patterns of the world are the patterns that contradict God’s ways. These could be at home, in the workplace, at school and even at church. It is important to bear in mind, it was the Pharisees – the religious leaders that Jesus rebuked.
How do we not conform any longer to the pattern of this world? By the renewing of our minds! Only then does transformation take place… The renewing of our minds doesn’t happen in an instant but rather is a process. Do not get disheartened when you slip and stumble and falter. Keep your gaze on Jesus no matter what. Jesus has forgiven our sins on the cross by His blood… There is no condemnation. God called the repentant David who had sinned left right and centre, a man after His own heart. We have hope. A broken and contrite heart God will not despise.
And as our minds go through the renewal and thus transformation, doing away the patterns of this world, we are able to realise what God’s good, pleasing and perfect will is.
Do not lose heart if you are stumbling over a sin… as long as your heart isn’t stubborn or arrogant… We have our goal towards which we are running to.. the goal being God’s perfect and pleasing will such that over time our fleshly nature decreases and the work of the Holy Spirit becomes increasingly evident.