Breaking the Chains of Habit

Samuel Johnson, an English writer, once wrote, “The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”  It is amazing how little habits grow into seemingly unbreakable sins. Bad habits tend to creep in, little by little. When those chains are well formed as sin, they are very hard to break. James puts it this way in James 1:14-15, “each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

Good habits generally don’t happen without more awareness and work. It generally takes effort, planning, and commitment to create a good habit. Of course, just as with a bad habit, good habits are formed little by little over time. Perhaps this story by an unknown author says it best…

A wise old teacher was taking a stroll through the forest with one of his students. The teacher stopped and pointed to four plants. The first was a tiny sprout, just coming out of the earth. The second, a little bigger, had rooted itself firmly in the fertile soil. The third was a small shrub. The fourth had grown into a well-developed tree.

The teacher instructed, “Pull up this first plant.” The student pulled it up easily with just his fingers. “Now pull up the second.” The student obeyed, and with a slight effort the plant came up, root and all. “And now the third.” The student pulled with one hand, then the other, but it would not come. Then he took both hands and the plant yielded to all his strength. “And now,” said the master, “try the fourth.” The student grasped the trunk with all his might, but hardly a leaf shook. “I cannot even move it!” he exclaimed.

“Just so,” said the teacher, “with bad habits. When they are young and small, we can cast them out, but when they are fully grown, they are hard to uproot.” If you have a habit you cannot get rid of, cast it upon the Lord and start anew. If you are looking to form new habits, start today…then tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.

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