Sunday, February 15, 2015

Changing Habits

Changing Habits
Feb 16, 2015
James 3:2  "'Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.'"

If you've ever tried to change a bad habit, you've probably experienced frustration.  You want to change but it is feels so difficult, like walking through mud.  Maybe the habit has been with you for many years and it seems impossible to quit.  Maybe you've tried to adjust the habit multiple times, yet to no avail.  Changing habits is a difficult thing to do and it certainly takes a large degree of will power.  It also takes a large degree of patience with yourself and extra grace from the Heavenly Father.  We get frustrated if we aren't able to change the habit instantly, or when we fall back into it.  It takes time and sometimes help.  If you want to be successful in changing habits, seek advice from those who have the good habit you desire; maybe ask them how they were able to institute it with such success.  I, personally, have found a little advice in the book of James.

James, though he only discusses the consequences of an uncontrolled tongue, actually gives a clue into breaking bad habits.  He says that the person who is able to control his or her tongue is able to control every area in life.  He suggests that the tongue, or mastery of the tongue, is the gateway to success over other bad habits you wish to change.  If a man is truly able to control his tongue, then he is able to influence the other areas of his life, the areas he wishes to change.  This is good news and this is bad news.  Mastery of the tongue, apparently, is the hardest and most difficult thing to do, the last item to check off the list for complete success in life.  Before you decide to quit while you're ahead, actually be encouraged, knowing it is something that will help you with your other bad habits.

The tongue is described as a tiny spark in comparison to a forest fire or a small rudder on a large ship.  You don't have to manage the forest fire or the large ship, you must simply manage the little tongue.  Easier said than done, yes, but it is easier to move the rudder on a ship than the entire ship.  It is easier to quench the tiny spark than the blazing forest fire.  James, before he discusses the tongue as the gateway over other areas of life, recognizes that we all stumble in various ways, especially the tongue.  He is granting room for error if your efforts are to improve.  He is aware that the tongue cannot be mastered overnight.  You may think some bad habits can be conquered simply by quitting cold turkey, but the tongue is not one of those quick-kick habits.  The tongue, or mastery over the tongue, is a perfect place to start if you're trying to change other bad habits.

I invented a game with my children.  The game is to see who can go the longest without talking.  One child made it a max of five minutes.  I think the winner made it an hour and a half.  It's not really a game; I was just hoping for some peace and quiet, which they figured out pretty quickly, but it taught me and my children a valuable lesson.  It taught them they were able to hold their tongue for at least a short period of time, maybe even if it's just thirty minutes.  It's a start.  If you can manage your tongue for thirty minutes, maybe next time you can manage it for an hour.  If you can manage your tongue for an hour, maybe you'll be able to stretch yourself into half a day.  Maybe soon you can go a whole day and not falter with your tongue even one time.  The point is you are trying, practicing, trying, practicing, and trying.  You may never have full mastery over your tongue for every single day of your life, but if you can keep a short leash on it successfully, you'll have empowered yourself with the ability to overcome other bad habits in your life.

Think of the habit you'd like to change and then start by managing your mouth.  It may seem counter intuitive, but if mastery over the tongue is the gateway to success over bad habits, by practicing the management of your words, you will have the skills and knowledge to manage your other bad habits.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Romans 12:2, 1 John 1:9, 1 Cor 10:13, James 3:1-12, 1 Peter 5:7

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