We are creatures of habit. In most ways, that’s good. In some ways, though, it can keep us in a loop. Break Out!
11 As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.
I reckon dogs have always been dogs. ‘Nuff said about that.
The big question is why do we continue to repeat bad choices? It’s like a moth to a flame: we can’t help ourselves. Whether it’s habitual sin, bad relationships, or damaging habits, we seem to have difficulties breaking out of our ruts. I heard one time that a rut is really a grave with both ends kicked out. If we are to follow Jesus daily, then we need to get out of our ruts and be prepared to take a new course.
Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23. Do we WANT to be His disciples? Will we DENY ourselves of our “creature comforts?” Are we willing to take up our cross, which means, to me, to turn my back on what I know and be ready to try whatever He has for me? Are we willing to make NEW HABITS by following Him DAILY?
One of the best–and saddest–examples of what Jesus is asking of us is found in Mark 10:17-22,
17As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”
20“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
The man’s question was a good one and one that is asked by a good many people. Jesus confronted him with a question, “Why do you call me good?” Then, He spoke truth to him: “No one is good–except God.” The implication is that if Jesus is good, then He is God. The true question was, “Do you believe that I am God?” If yes, then He is worth following; if no, then…
Being God, Jesus knew his heart and what meant the most to him. His wealth was weighing him down. There are many movies about wealth bringing about the demise of many who tried to hold onto their riches but then couldn’t escape. In “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” Indiana wanted to go back for the cup when the building was falling down. Elsa had already lost her life trying to get it. His dad told him, “Let it go.” Indy did and they all got out safely. The lesson is that they tried to hold onto something that was actually holding them back from life. One let go; one didn’t.
Matthew and Luke also have this account in their Gospels, but Mark added a little note that the other ones didn’t: “Jesus looked at him and loved him.” He loves us the very same way. He looks at us–I mean, REALLY looks at us all the way down to the depths of our souls–and loves us wholly, completely, and with abandon. He calls us to give up that which is holding us back from loving Him, from following Him, and from the life that He has for us. Many prefer to stay in that open grave (the rut). LET’S GET OUT OF THE RUT!!!
Here’s how (according to my own experience):
- Categorically turn whatever it is over to Jesus. Release it into His hands.
- Praise Him for taking it and for how He is going to use it to make us more like Him.
- The next time we are tempted, we praise Him for the opportunity to win. In other words, we use praise to remind us of our decision, the feelings we had when we let Him have it, and our pledge to fight.
- Ask Him for strength and for a way out. We have this promise: No temptation has seized you but which is common to everyone. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13. I memorized this verse LONG AGO!
- If we succeed, rejoice! If we fail, we repent (acknowledge our failure) and receive His love, mercy and grace, encouragement, and instruction on how to beat it next time. We use the event to have a great time with the LORD. We come away looking a little bit more like Jesus.
- After a while, either Satan realizes that the particular vice we have is causing him more harm than good because it drives us to the Father, so he backs off, or, (and this is what I really think) we come to see the besetting sin as God does–as that which hurts His children–and it loses its power over us.
- When we want to sin, we run to Him. It’s what He wants. He said as much: “Come to Me, all who are weary [of fighting against your sinful nature] and heavy laden [with the burden of carrying the weight of our sin] and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you [it’s a double yoke, and He will pull the Lion’s share of the load] and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest [and peace] for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden [for you] is light. Matthew 11:28-30.
Let’s use today as a spiritual exercise by putting this method into practice. I think that you will find Him to be a GREAT companion, one full of understanding, sympathy, and encouragement.
Dear Lord, I praise You for leading me into this lesson early in life. I still follow it today–I still NEED it today. Help us all to learn to trust You as we walk with You. You are our Rock, our Shield, our Fortress, our Sustainer and our Strength…I think I’ll break out in song! In You, I will not be shaken. Bless You, LORD! Amen.