“The thrill of victory . . . and the agony of defeat!” It is the universal experience of the athlete—the heart-racing thrill of finishing first … the gut-wrenching angst of finishing last.
And as with athletes, so it is with us—we are called by God to develop discipline to run the race set before us. But before athletes can even enter the competition ring, they must first rigorously prepare—developing habits that harden the muscles for strength … habits that toughen the body for endurance … habits that train the mind for self-control. The Apostle Paul was clear …
“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training” (1 Corinthians 9:25).
Training for the event can be treacherous . . . particularly in cold-weather conditions . . . necessitating those who train for it to echo Paul’s words: “I beat my body and make it my slave.” (1 Corinthians 9:27)
Interestingly, in most dictionaries the first definition for the word habit reveals it to be “a type of clothing that is characteristic of a certain calling, rank or function.” Eventually a habit came to be “a pattern of behavior acquired by frequent repetition that reflects the prevailing character of a person.”1
The Bible is interwoven with the same concept: Your habits characterize your character. If you are a Christian, your calling is to be clothed in the habit of Christ, with the result that your character actually reflects His character.
“Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (Romans 13:14)
Is Your Habit Beauty or Beast?
Habits are learned behaviors that become powerful forces in your life for good . . . or for bad. Every habit is either Christ-centered or self-centered . . . a virtue or a vice . . . a beauty or a beast! Certain characteristics are common to those who repeatedly practice destructive, addictive behavior. These characteristics can become automatic to the point that those who have them are totally oblivious to them. Nevertheless, their impact can destroy personal and professional relationships and the development of Christlike characteristics because those who are controlled by habitual negative behavior patterns . . .
What God Says
“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.” (2 Peter 1:5-8)
"No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." (Luke 16:13)
1. See Merriam-Webster Inc., Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Basic English (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 2000).