Establishing Good Habits

Text: II Peter 1:2-12


I.         We spend a lot of time and money on education

            A.        We learn fundamental skills and search for information that makes us stand out in the job market

            B.        We teach our children, even when they whine and moan about school work, so that they are prepared to take care of themselves.

            C.        All our learning allows us to make rapid and accurate decisions. We can communicate them to others clearly. What once took hours to do can be done almost by habit.

            D.        Habits are just the rote response that we have instilled in ourselves. Whether they are good habits or bad habits depend on what we have taught ourselves.

II.        Habits instilled in childhood last a lifetime.

            A.        Few of us need to think about how to walk. It is a habit well ingrained in our memory.

            B.        Yet in childhood we also pick up moral habits - Proverbs 22:6

                        1.         In other words instill good, sound habits in your child so that when he is older he need not think about it. He will do the right thing by habit.

                        2.         Or another way to look at it, he will have to make a conscious decision to do wrong.

            C.        These good moral habits are instill by repetitive application - Lamentations 3:25-30

                        1.         I have heard foolish parents say, “We want Johnny not to feel forced coming to church, so we don’t make him go.” Hence, Johnny develops a habit of missing services. What do you think Johnny does when he grows up?

                        2.         I met one family who proudly said that they kept their children home when they were little so as to not disrupt the services. Is it remarkable that not one of their children were members of the church?

            D.        Youth is the time to instill good habits - Ecclesiastes 12:1

                        1.         Listen to the benefits bestowed - Proverbs 3:21-26

III.       If we are not careful the wrong habits are instilled.

            A.        In the days of Israel’s kings, a wicked woman decided to set herself up as queen of Judah. To accomplish this, she killed all the male grandchildren leaving no one left to inherit the throne when her son died.

            B.        One grandson was saved by the high priest who took the young boy and raised him. When he was seven years old, Jehoiada set him up as king. - II Chronicles 24:1-2

                        1.         Joash was a good king as long as Jehoiada was there to advise him.

                        2.         But it wasn’t goodness that Joash developed as a habit, but a habit of listening to others. Not a good trait in a leader.

            C.        When Jehoiada died, Joash began to listen to others who were evil - II Chronicles 24:17-18

                        1.         Even though God sent prophets to Joash, he would not listen. He already developed a habit of following sin. - II Chronicles 24:19

                        2.         Eventually Joash has the son of Jehoiada, Zechariah stoned for speaking against him - II Chronicles 24:20-22

            D.        We must be careful to instill proper moral habits. Not ones that are only on the surface, but ones that have roots deep into the person’s character.

IV.      Habits can be developed even in later life.

            A.        People who never drank coffee as a child can’t start the day without it as an adult. A habit was developed.

            B.        But habits come from repetition - Proverbs 4:23-27

            C.        Even bad habits can be broken with repeated good moral actions - I Peter 4:1-4

                        1.         At first, it takes a lot of conscious effort to stop an immoral action.

                        2.         You have to wrestle with your own inclinations.

                        3.         Yet, bad habits left uncheck brings sorrows - Proverbs 22:8

            D.        It goes both ways – what you sow is what you reap - Hosea 10:12-13

                        1.         Galatians 6:6-10 - While we have opportunity, it is time to start sowing seeds of good morals so they may mature to solid moral habits.

                        2.         Portia Nelson’s “Autobiography in Five Short Chapters”

                                    a.         Chapter One - I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost . . . I am hopeless. It isn’t my fault. It takes me forever to find a way out.

                                    b.         Chapter Two - I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in the same place. But, it is not my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.

                                    c.         Chapter Three - I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in . . . it is a habit. My eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.

                                    d.         Chapter Four - I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

                                    e.         Chapter Five - I walk down another street.

            E.        Notice from our reading - II Peter 1:8-10

                        1.         With diligence (effort, work) we can make our calling certain by the continual practice of righteousness. In other words it is a habit to do what is right.

V.        So what have you been doing with your life?

            A.        Are you giving in to the habit of sin? Or worse are you giving in to a habit of complacency?

            B.        What bad habits are you working on breaking? What good habits are you working on establishing?

            C.        Today is an opportunity to start the best habit of all, walking the path of a Christian life.