It’s hard to develop new habits, despite our many resolutions.
Experts say it takes at least three weeks to build a strong, positive habit.
But many of us don’t even make it that far!
So, does the Bible have anything to say about the process of building godly habits?
Romans 12 offers some keen insights about the difficult process of building godly habits and spiritual disciplines.
The first two verses of this chapter are strong words about our calling as Christians to develop God-honoring patterns of thought, attitude, and behavior.
“I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and please to God — this is your true and proper worship.”
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing, and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2).
What can we learn from these dense verses?
1. We must build godly habits in reliance on God’s mercy and grace.
In these verses from Romans, the Apostle Paul urges Christians to develop their spiritual lives “in view of God’s mercy.”
In other words, we can’t do anything without His power.
The first step to building habits that are physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy is to ask for God’s help.
We are battling our fleshly instincts at every turn, so we need His power above all else!
As you evaluate your usual attitudes and actions, pray over what habits God would have you change, and ask what He wants you to start focusing on.
Seek to change your habits as a response to His great mercy and grace.
2. Godly habits require sacrifice.
Paul reminds us that the Christian life is an offering of “[our] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.”
We must acknowledge that our lives are intended to be lived in service to God. And whatever pieces of our lives do not honor God must be jettisoned.
Healthy habits often start with spiritual and mental “housecleaning,” or an evaluation of the habits and behaviors in your life. Chances are you’re already aware of what needs to be sacrificed: you just need to start doing it.
It’s difficult to give up things that give us pleasure, like social media, TV shows, daydreaming, or oversleeping. But clearing out the clutter in your life and sacrificing some things that hold you back will help you develop helpful, strong habits for the future!
3. God-honoring habits are often counter-cultural.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” Paul writes.
He’s reminding us that, as Christians, we may not look a lot like the people around us. If we’re living in service to God, we’re usually going against the grain of our sinful world.
It’s hard to develop godly habits when the world is encouraging us to pursue temporary happiness and shallow satisfaction.
But we’re not to be discouraged by this: rather, we should take heart in the idea that God is transforming us into His image.
That’s why it’s incredibly important to work on your spiritual habits in community with other believers. Find people who inspire you to follow God wholeheartedly, and rejoice in the path of transformation together!
4. Spiritually healthy habits will lead us closer to Christ.
If you are being transformed into God’s image and conforming to His pattern for thoughts and behaviors, “you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is,” Paul assures us.
Do you need motivation to build the habit of prayer or Bible study? Look no further, because there’s no greater reason to work at these habits than the knowledge that you will know God more deeply through your discipline.
God’s “good, pleasing, and perfect will” is that all Christians will walk closely with Him forever. Daily habits are a crucial building block of that journey and something that gives Him great joy!
Whatever your goals are, it will be difficult to break old habits and build new ones. But when you’re discouraged by failure or backsliding, remember that God’s strength is enough, and He delights in your sacrifices.