A habit can say a lot about who a person is. My husband’s job allows for him to come to the office anywhere between 7 and 8:30 in the morning. He routinely gets up in time to be at the office at 7 so that he can get off work earlier in the afternoon and have more time with our kids. It says so much about his character that he has made a habit of getting up early, not because he naturally gets up early (he doesn’t) but because he values time with family over sleep.
What Are Your Habits?
What would you say are the habits that define you as a person? I am in the habit of drinking coffee. I’m tempted to think of it as a habit that is insignificant enough that it doesn’t define me as a person-but on the mornings when I don’t have coffee? It definitely defines my morning.
Jesus told a parable of two sons. The father asks his first son to work in the vineyard, and his son agrees. But later the son doesn’t go to the vineyard at all. The second son says ‘no,’ but later goes and works. Clearly the second son pleases his father more than the first. What does thi have to do with habits?
The Most Important Habit
As a believer, what is the most important habit I should incorporate in my life? The most life changing habit that I can add to my life is simple: obedience. The second son was in the habit of obeying his father, and even on the day that he didn’t want to obey, he did.
A habit of obedience will quickly influence your entire life. Paul developed such a habit of obedience, that he allowed the Spirit to direct his very foot steps. Paul travels through four regions, the Spirit telling him ‘no’ at each town, until he reached Troas. There in a dream he directs him in a dream to go to Macedonia. Paul habitually gave control to the Holy Spirit.
The result of his obedience is that Lydia and the Philippian jailer (Philippi is in Macedonia) were saved. Acts says that the entire household of the jailer was saved. The Philippian letter is know as Paul’s joyful letter. He had such a special relationship with them and it is evident that his habit of obedience shaped the Bible we have today.
What Does the Habit of Obedience Look Like in Your Life?
What does this look like for us? Well, sometimes we know exactly what God wants of us. Does God want you to read his word? Yes! Reading God’s word increases our sensitivity to his direction. Spending time in prayer increases our sensitivity to God’s direction. Fellowship with other believers builds us up and lets us benefit from the wisdom of other believers. I have shared before that one of the primary things pray for my kids is that they would have a love for God’s word. I know that if they are rooted in God’s word, they will be more capable of discerning his will.
Acting in obedience to the basic things that we know God desires shows a step of obedience. When one of my daughters is struggling to obey, the best thing I can do is give her a small thing to obey. If her maturity level is keeping her from being in a room without arguing with her sister, it may be that she is able to sit next to me in a time out.
We have talked about the fact that this not a consequence. Instead it is a second chance. See the small things as opportunities for obedience. These are chances to let God grow you to a new level of maturity where he can use you more effectively.
Make it a Habit This Week
Spend a little time making your plan for obedience this week. I suggest you make these goals reasonable. If you haven’t been having a quiet time every day, don’t get up and try tot have a two hour quiet time every day this week. Set your alarm fifteen minutes early.
Pray that God would help you to be sensitive to his direction. Then, decide now that when you hear his still small voice, your plan is obedience. Maybe while you have been reading this article you have been thinking about a specific thing God has been convicting you to do. Ask for help in obedience. Remember the man who cried out to Jesus for help in his unbelief? God wants us to lean on him! Other opportunities for obedience might be scripture memory, church attendance, or sharing your faith.
My personal plan for obedience is to include scripture memory in my daily quiet time. I can see that scripture memory positively impacts my spiritual walk. I love that I can call a verse to mind even when I cannot open my Bible at that moment. But I have gotten too relaxed and I haven’t made an effort to memorize anything in a while, so I have chosen Psalm 25:5.
When What He Says Doesn’t Make Sense
Deciding that obedience is your plan helps when you don’t understand why God is telling you to do something. I remember a story of a college Sunday School teacher who felt like God wanted her to make pizza rolls one evening. As she was pulling them out of the oven a student knocked on her door in search of advice. This is kind of a funny example, but think how happy she was that she listened to his voice.
There are times when we hear his prompting, but we don’t understand. Now let me be very clear- I am not talking about anything that goes against scripture. That is not a word from God. I am talking about things that God convicts you about that aren’t something that you would choose for yourself.
A year ago my family moved to a different state. We moved farther from both our immediate families. We moved to a more expensive city. It didn’t make a lot of sense from a career standpoint or for our personal comfort. But we felt so strongly that this was God’s calling for my husband and our family that we did it. God opened doors again and again. We got our moving truck at a huge discount. A house became available the week before we moved. Our kids allergies are not as bad here in the desert as they were in the humid climate we moved from. When God is asking you to step out in faith, it will often not be what you pictured, or what you would pick. But he is so faithful in taking care of us, its worth the risk.