They develop a habit of doing what they needed to do to achieve their personal goals. When God created mankind, He created you and I to be creatures of habits.
Those of you who are business people know that you’ve got to maintain the habit of getting up early, and working hard and smart during the day, to gain competitive advantage over those who are in similar businesses as yours.
Those of you attending school know that to be successful in your studies, you have to develop the habit of completing your homework on a daily basis, and have your assignments handed in on time.
If you are a farmer, you know that you have to develop and maintain the habit of sowing and reaping. No sowing, no reaping! Great people have great habits, because these people have learned how to harness the power of habit and use it effectively.
The Bible tells us Jesus Christ had a habit of praying early hours of the morning every day. The prophet Daniel had a habit of giving thanks to God in prayer three times a day. (Daniel 6.10). David had a habit of praising God continually. Psalms 34.1 says, “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” What these verses are saying is that these great men of the Bible developed the habit of what they were doing because they had done it repeatedly over a period of time.
In the New Testament book of Second Peter 1:5-8, The Apostle Peter wrote, “… make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
What we are given here is a list of virtues you and I, as Christians, must develop in order to be spiritually victorious and fruitful before God. So how do you add value to your life?
First I make every effort to add to my faith The first thing we are told here is that you are to “make every effort to add to your faith” (v.5).
Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ and receiving Him as your Lord and Saviour is only the starting point of your life as a Christian. The Bible is saying that every believer must be actively involved in their spiritual growth.
Paul wrote in Philippians.2.12b-13, “… continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Notice that Scripture is encouraging us to “add” positive habits: goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.
Note also that godly characteristics do not automatically grow without our diligent effort to cultivate them. Some people get satisfied with who they are and see no point in adding anything new to their lives. They just want to coast along in life. What people fail to realise is that, everything is changing whether we like it or not. If you are not making positive changes, then negative changes are making you! You either grow or decay. That is why the Bible is telling us in our reading, to take the initiative and make every effort to add positive habits to our lives.
The truth is, God wants Christians, never to stop learning and never to stop growing in knowledge. God wants you to keep finding ways to add to your strength, and avoid stagnation. The Bible says it is not what you hear that makes you productive, it’s what you do! “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22).
A champion sportsperson knows the need to listen to, and follow the instructions of their coach, in order to increase the skill level needed to remain a champion. When they stop making every effort to improve, their performance will go downhill. The principle is clear and real, and very true to every area of our lives. You must keep adding new, healthy and godly habits to stay effective and productive.
Second, make every effort to possess positive habits. Second Peter 1.8 tells us: “For if you possess these qualities in an increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
People need to realise that doing something once in a while, and doing something out of habit are two totally different things. Habit is something you develop from repetitive conduct or action. It is something you are so used to doing that it has become part of you. You and I are what we repeatedly do.
Did you become a coffee drinker because you drank coffee once? Coffee drinkers drink coffee repeatedly.
Are you friendly because you were friendly once? No, you are friendly because you grew up being friendly.
When you do something repeatedly, your life will change. The challenge is for Christians to possess positive habits.
Second Corinthians 5.17 says: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” That tells me old habits hinder new life. The worry habit, the anger habit, the gossip habit, the cursing habit, the fighting habit, the drinking habit, the lying habit, the greedy habit, the hanging out with old friends habit. Areyou getting the idea? Old habits hinder new life! Don’t underestimate the power of what we repeatedly do in our lives. Think about it this way:
• Ten years of complaining versus 10 years of thanksgiving.
• Ten years of going to church with a learning attitude versus 10 years of going to church out of obligation.
• Ten years of smoking versus 10 years of exercise and healthy food.
• Ten years of thinking self-defeating thoughts versus 10 years of innovative and encouraging thoughts.
Whenever we allow negative habits to linger in our lives, they steal, that’s right, they steal the possibilities of new and better life. The day that old habits end that is the day that a new life can begin.
With the Lord Jesus Christ in your life, you are a new creation. The Bible says that the kingdom of God is within you. With it comes new standards, new expectations, new ways of thinking, a new culture. And to be able to live your new life according to those standards, expectations, and so on, you must practice and develop the appropriate behaviour and thought patterns, until they start shaping and directing your life.
The Apostle James wrote: “… faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead…. Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.” (Jam.2.17-18).
Scripture says: “For if you possess these qualities with increasing measure …”
What qualities? Goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. The challenge is for you and I to possess these qualities “with increasing measure”.
In case some of you have been trying to be perfect, or you are thinking about trying to be perfect, please stop trying. You will surely fail. God is gracious and He understands that the transition from the old person to the new person is not going to be easy for us. So He says, just introduce the new and positive qualities into your life bit by bit, and as you increase your practice of it, the old habits will go out the window.
Third, appreciate the effect of positive habits. The Bible says, “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Second Peter 1.8).
Effectiveness and fruitfulness in our Christian walk is closely associated with having the godly and positive attitudes that the Apostle Peter speaks about.
At the time of writing, Peter was addressing a Church that was under pressure from false prophets and teachers, who were undermining the truth that had been taught by the Apostles. He was encouraging them to be on their guard so that they may not “be carried away by the error of lawless men” and to “grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
I believe that the level of “soft” and “half-truth” gospel is increasing in our country. In fact, this shift is so subtle that coupled with the pressures of daily living, it is not hard for Christians to be distracted in their relationship with Jesus Christ.
It is probably time for you to take stock of where you are in your attitudes as an individual, in your relationship with Jesus Christ and with your family. Are they positive or are they negative?
Whatever the answer is, the Bible exhorts us to add to our faith, a list of virtues that will bring about positive changes in our lives, and to drive out the negative.
Be encouraged to take the challenge, make the change, and with Christ’s help, be the champion that God created you to be.
Enjoy the weekend and be a world-changer by changing your attitude.
Pastor Tevai Matapo,
Assembly of God