Habituation

January 4, 2011
by Robin Ross

Titus 3:3-5a – At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. (NIV)

When we moved into our new home more than a year ago, it had been completely renovated, but there were many things on our list of improvements that we wanted to make. We built storage racks in the garage, installed shelving in the closets, stained the rebuilt deck, replaced screens on the windows, and fixed leaks at the corners of the eavestrough. Last summer, I noticed that there were still other screens with bent frames, and other eavestrough corners that were leaking. But because I was out of "repair mode", those improvements just got left undone. We got used to them.

This tendency of human beings to get used to the situation in which they find themselves is called "habituation". If we walk into a room and notice an odour, pretty soon we won't notice it any more. If we buy a new ring or start wearing a watch, after a while, the newness wears off.

Similarly, in our spiritual lives, we can become habituated to our new life in Christ. We soon forget what it was like when, without Christ, we were "foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved", doing the very things that we didn't want to do, unable to discipline ourselves. We were burdened with guilt over things that went wrong, and pride made us unwilling to admit our mistakes: an odious odour. But then, we invited Christ to come in with His breath of fresh air: forgiveness of our guilt and sin, the power to conquer bad habits, the joy of an open relationship with God, and the expectation of an eternity in heaven with Him. A new life in Christ took over the old one, changing us into His likeness, with new thoughts, words, and actions. Gradually, we become used to the fresh air and the new way of living in Christ. We lose the urgency of sharing Christ with those who do not know Him, and we become used to having unbelievers around us.

Let us take a few moments to walk out again into the sunshine of Christ's love, and take a big breath of His fresh air, giving a heartfelt expression of thanks that "he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy."

Prayer: Right now, Lord, we take this opportunity to thank You for all that You have done for us through Christ's death on the cross for us. You have relieved us of the guilt, bad habits, and pride that caused so much misery in our lives. We were our own worst enemies, and You saved us, and changed us to look more and more like Jesus. Help us to be ever mindful of this, and remind us never to get used to it. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

About the author:

Robin Ross <rross@telus.net>
Mission, British Columbia, Canada

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