I was recently reading an article written by a young man that struggled with alcoholism. He spoke of the immense power that alcohol had over his life and the unending desire he felt to numb his pain and escape from his newfound reality. There was a theme as he walked through the timeline of the events that lead him to being a full blown alcoholic by his twenties.
There would be a period of change brought on by a small decision. That small decision would be carried out for a period of time until his body got habituated to it, then another small decision would be made upping the ante. This paradigm continued on, small decision after small decision, increased potency and increased frequency until one day he arrived and looked up at his life and couldn’t believe what he had become.
His goal was never to become an alcoholic, but his laxity in his daily habits and choices lead him down the gradual road to an undesirable and often irreparable destination.
The vast parallels to this man’s journey and the Christian life is not lost on me. I’ve heard many stories over the past year of individuals that called themselves Christians only to look up at their life in twenty years to find it had no evidence of the presence of God, and loads of evidence of giving God lip-service without giving him your life. I don’t believe it is an outright conscious decision for someone that claims to be a Christian to reject God as much as it is daily investments in habits of sin and indifference that lead to the destination that is the sum of their choices.
Here is the punchline: Sin rolls downhill.
What do we know about things that roll downhill? They are very difficult to stop, and often we cannot stop them in a time of our own choosing.
If JC Ryle isn’t wise enough for you maybe the wisest man to ever live will be. Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 11:9:
“Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in these days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for ALL these things God will bring you to judgement.”
What does that mean? You can follow your heart and do anything you truly desire, but at the end of the day your actions, your habits, and your choices will be judged by God.
What habits are in your life right now that are not leading you closer to Christ? Are the values that you claim to have in your life actualized or are they merely aspirational? Far too many operate under the hope that “one day” they will devote their life to Christ when in the meantime they are creating habits that will not easily be broken. Who you will be heavily depends on what you are now, and too many of us seem to forget this.
Every choice you make is an investment in becoming more of who you hope to be. Now you may never inherently say that you hope to be an alcoholic, or that you hope to be far from God, but your actions are the proving ground for what you actually believe. Those that truly believe Christ is the Lord of their life will have behavior that follows that belief. Their daily actions will create habits and those habits will shape their character. Here is the thing… your soul cannot stand still. Your daily choices are either strengthening your soul towards God or hardening your heart and moving away from Him.
Where are we at with this friends? Are you working to create healthy habits in your life that will make you more of who God called you to be, or are we simply letting the sin and indifference of our lives roll us downhill? Remember, weeds grow easily, gardens take work.
This is why scripture calls us to action in our devotion to Christ. 1 Timothy 4:13 tells us we are to devote ourselves to scripture. Psalm 101:3 proclaims the importance of setting no evil thing before you to avoid falling away. Hebrews 10:25 calls us to the habit of being in community to spur us forward. Every single “one another” of scripture is a call to investing in those around us with biblical truths, wisdom, and above all else love. Do these sound like your habits, or is there work to be done in the garden of your soul?
Imagine if professing Christians all around the world began to actually devote themselves to the things they say they believe? Many claim the Bible to be true, but never actually begin living as if it is.
What if we devoted ourselves to biblical understanding and casting off the habits that draw us closer to the edge of the steep slope? What if we began investing in our walk with Christ in the same way we invested in our jobs, image, and hobbies? Can you imagine what it would look like if all Christians did an audit of their soul to see which direction it was moving and responded in humility to change its course?
No one can do this perfectly friends. Becoming more like Christ is an endeavor not completed until the other side of this life. But the pursuit of it through our daily actions is the road to life, love, and peace. The life that God has called you to is worth so much more than succumbing to habits that make you a mere shell of what you were designed to be. Trust God at His Word. Test His promises and see them to be true. He is not a liar, and daily investments that form habits that draw you nearer to Him and call you into His ways is a sure-fire way to walk in His will for you. He won’t rip you off, He is going to set you free. Believe it.