< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Good to Great Chapter 10 - Develop Great Habits

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Good to Great Chapter 10 - Develop Great Habits

This is from the last chapter of Chip Ingram's Book Good to Great in God's Eyes.

We make thousands of decisions everyday and most we aren’t even aware of. They’re automatic. Habits. We tie our shoes without having to remember which loop to make first. We brush our teeth without putting it on our to-do list. Everything you know about being a great Christian, having a Christian life, means nothing unless you do it and it becomes a habit. Good habits save effort, ease routines, increase efficiency and release power. The sum of our good and bad habits will decide who we will become. The kind of person we will be in 10 or 15 years depends on our habits today.

Chip says we can actually learn to be kind, learn to be generous, to think great thoughts or make great sacrifices. But you have to cultivate a lifestyle in which those things can occur and become second nature.

Paul wrote to Timothy and instructed him in his pastor’s role. He told him to discipline himself for the purpose of godliness. The word discipline can also be translated “practice” or “exercise”. It’s the same word we get gymnasium from and conveys the idea of going into training. And Paul goes on to say:

1st Timothy 4:8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

Godliness is profitable for eternity and it comes in large part through discipline.

Chip suggests we examine our habits. Think about the routines we have that we probably don’t even think about: a certain bedtime snack, a certain TV show every week that we never miss. He says habits can be our best friends or our worst enemies. If we want to change, we need to address deeply ingrained habits.

He used as an example of how he used to watch the 11:00 news every night. He felt like that was the only way he could know what was going on and he couldn’t miss it, but he realized that going to bed at 11:30 or later wasn’t allowing him to get up early and get going. So he quit cold turkey and never regretted it. He woke up earlier after a good night’s sleep and could spend time in Bible reading and prayer first thing.

The idea is to be aware of what we do each day or each week. See if it’s good or if it’s something that is preventing us from doing something better – and make the change. It might be hard at first, but:

Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.

Grace and effort go hand and hand. Not Grace and merit – the idea we can earn God’s favor is called legalism. But the gospel doesn’t teach us that we don’t exert effort to be obedient and faithful. In fact we are commanded to “make every effort” to live with one another in humility and unity. God’s grace gives us both the desire and than the ability to be righteous and follow Him. Godliness only comes through grace, but it takes great effort to apply grace fully to our lives.

So with that in mind Chip lists 6 habits that help cultivate our experience of grace. These are not ways to earn God’s approval, but spiritual pipelines that allow God’s grace to transform our life. God will use them to pour His unmerited favor into our heart and mind so that by His power we can become more and more like Christ.

I'll list the habits in tomorrow's post.

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