Much of our behavior is not intentional, it is the result of habits. Habits are patterns of behavior that we have acquired over time. Consider, for example, my routine when I get home from work. First I drop my bag into kitchen table chair. Second, I remove my shoes underneath the chair and yes, I lay my coat over it as well. I don’t think it through, it is my habit. Is it good or bad? In order to determine that, I look to my wife, Jennifer. She starts with a gentle reminder, saying, “hey, your shoes are in here.” As time passes, her irritation escalates to anger. I’m sure you can figure out the rest of the story. The bottom line is that our habits affect other people and they have a significant impact our relationships.
Once I recognize that a particular habit is straining our relationship, there is a choice to make. Do I continue on, knowing that they anger my wife, or do I change? I know what you are thinking, “Hey, idiot, pick up your shoes!” Right? Yes, that is the obvious answer. Yet, each of us makes similar choices, every day. Consider, now your habits relative to God. Today in Colossians 3, Paul reminds us that because we have chosen to be in a relationship with God, we must alter our behavior. Just like our spouses, our routines and habits affect our relationship with God.
How are we to do change our habits? The recipe is simple. It starts with our focus. Paul encourages us in Colossians 3:2 to “think about the things of heaven not of earth.” Now, I don’t think he’s telling us to think about streets paved in gold. Instead, he wants us to be reminded of the pure and perfect love in heaven because of God’s presence. The result magnifies God in a way that stirs our desire to please him. Our attempts to please Him will reveal conflicts with our natural behavior. In fact, just as in my marriage, it is impossible to attain a healthy relationship without removing old behaviors and replacing them with new behaviors that are pleasing and uplifting. Paul says to put them to “death.”
If you are like me, thinking of all the habits I need to change is paralyzing. For now, I’m going to focus on one small thing. What is ONE action that you can take today that will allow God’s love to flow more freely in your life? Don’t over think it. It might be as simple as moving your shoes.