Can you believe it? The summer is “over,” school is beginning and once again, many of us settle into those comfortable, familiar patterns. What is the distinction between nonproductive ruts and productive habits and just how does one distinguish between the two? Both are the product of conditioning.
Paul, who knew the dynamic nature of our spiritual warfare (1 Corinthians 9:19-22), also recognized the value of traditions (2 Thessalonians 2:15-17). He understood the benefit of developing a doctrine and practice founded in God’s inspired Word. Implementing good habits promotes growth, maturity, and strength in unity (Ephesians 4:11-16).
And, how do we do this? Practice, practice, practice! The Bible teaches us that good habits are neither genetically inherited nor given as a gift. They are nurtured and cultivated over time, personally developed, until they become second nature. Before long, one does not even have to think about them but act in almost robotic fashion to various stimuli. Herein lies the danger; not that we develop these habits or that they are somewhat automatic, but that we don’t think.
We must continually develop good behavior patterns but we must also continually challenge our habitual conduct with scripture. While “evil company corrupts good habits” (1 Corinthians 15:33), “building up yourselves on your most holy faith” (Jude 20) demands purity and Christian companionships (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). Further, we must regularly set aside time to meditate on God’s word (Psalm 119:148), absorbing nutrients that promote spiritual growth. Finally, we must be open to every opportunity to “do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).
Even good habits refuse to become ruts by their very nature. As we travel down the road of life, we should not leave ruts into which others might fall, but we should leave ruts.