Thursday, September 20, 2007

How to Break-free from a Bad Habit (#4)

Good evening everyone! It has been a whirlwind of a day, and I am just now getting around to posting my blog. I apologize for that.

We have been looking at nine steps to break a bad habit in your life. We are using an acrostic of the word BREAK-FREE. So far this week we have covered:

Begin today Refuse to blame others Examine MY life Ask Christ to take control of my life Keep away from temptation Focus on something better

Let's look at the next two steps:


What does that have to do with my bad habits? Everything. Our bad habits always affect those around us. Especially those closest to us. What I do, my habits, don't just hurt me. They hurt other people.

There's a phrase you hear a lot today in the media: "What I do in my private life, doesn't effect my public performance." There's a spiritual, Greek word for that -- bologna! It's not true. Your character does influence everything you do. What I do privately does influence me publicly.

Let's say you hired a tutor for your children. The tutor said, "I want you to know that privately I'm a pedophile and a molester, but it will not affect my public performance." You'd have some questions. If you hired an accountant and he said, "Privately, my hobby is lying, cheating and stealing. But it doesn't affect my public performance as an accountant." That's crazy!

Your bad habits and my bad habits do hurt the people around us. We cause grief to others and we cause guilt to ourselves. Anything that's out of control in your life is hurting other people.

Romans 12:18, "As far as your responsibility goes, live at peace with everyone." He's saying, as far as your responsibility goes, have all the bridges restored and relationships rebuilt. Live at peace with everybody. Usually this involves clearing up unresolved issues. It may take some time. You make a list of the people you've hurt with your bad habits -- either intentionally or unintentionally -- and you go to those people and you ask forgiveness and make amends. You ask them to help you. Make restitution where possible. Maybe some of you need to go back to a former spouse and say, "I never really did admit this, but I need to admit I was a major part of this break-up and here are the reasons why. I'm sorry and I want to ask you to forgive me." That doesn't mean you're getting back together. You may have already re-married. But it does mean you're cleaning up the past.

Why would you do anything that difficult?

This step in the nine steps is the most difficult step. None of us want to admit that my problem caused you pain. It's humbling and that's the idea. The Bible says that God resists the proud but He gives grace to the humble. Grace is the power to change. You don't get grace by being proud. You get it by being humble.

Why should you go back to the people that you've hurt with your habits and ask them to forgive you? Because a clear conscious is absolutely essential for lasting change. I'm not talking about if you want to change for three months or six months or a year. I'm talking about permanent change in your lifestyle and your life for the rest of your life. You've got to take this step. Say, "God, I admit it," and then you go to the people and say, "I admit it."

There is a law of human behavior called The Law of Diminishing Intent. You may have never heard that term. It means that as time passes, our best intentions fade. We get in a very predictable cycle of phases:

  • Phase one is desperation.
    I've got to change! It's the point where you become so upset with something in your life that you go "Enough is enough! I'm not living like this anymore. I'm changing. I've got to change!" Desperation.
  • Phase two is determination.
    I'm going to change! You make the decision. You sign the commitment card. You do whatever it takes. I'm going to change! You step across the line.
  • Phase three is effort. That's where you, out of sheer human will power start going, "I'm changing!" And by sheer human will power you do start changing yourself. You start making the changes in your life. That lasts three months, four months, a little longer. But it's not going to last forever. Will power runs out.
  • Phase four is pride. That's where you start thinking, "I've got this thing licked. It wasn't that hard. Look at what I'm doing. I'm having victory here. I've got it licked." The Bible says "Pride comes before destruction". Inevitably you fall. "Let him who stands take heed lest he fall."

So then we start the cycle all over again. We wait until things get so bad and we says, "I have got to change" -- Desperation. Then Determination: "I'm going to change!" Effort: "I am changing." Pride: "Look at me! I'm doing it!" Then you fall.

When you do this five or six times then you start feeling ashamed. You don't even want to talk to God about it any more. You've stumbled so many times, you're embarrassed, you're ashamed and you think, "I'm going to give up!" How do you break that cycle? Why don't you tell God right now that you are tired of the way you are, and that you truly DESIRE to change? He will give you the strength, and He will bring people into your life to help you. That will be where we start tomorrow! Blessings!

Rejoicing (and spinning) in this wonderful day!

Pastor Rusty


angied_rn said...

This blog has truly ministered to me in a very personal way. Being a young stepparent to three grown children has certainly had it's share of hard times, heart aches and disappointments, not to mention boundaries that not only have been crossed but "destroyed". Needless to say there are a couple of relationships that so need to be mended and knowing where to start sometimes is the hardest part. I can, through God's grace, admit my ownership in the broken relationships but my stepchildren ( they are 35, 32 and 28 so they aren't "children")are completely unwilling and unable to get over the past, or even talk about the past and try to mend hurts and scars. So, please pray for this situation. As I continue to allow the Holy Spirit to work in my life and change some things that need "tweeking" (or majorily overhauled) my family is hurting and I pray for the opportunity to present itself for restoration. This blog will certainly help! Thank you!