Today we’re obsessed with speed. A coworker was regaling me about their hectic Memorial Day plans and all the cookouts they attended. It made me sad to know that so much care was given to being hectic and not slowing down to enjoy their day. We don’t slow down in this fast paced world of ours, mostly done by our own accord.
The same can be said when it comes to our faith. We are taught to have good lives and perform good works. I am guilty of this to an extent of exploring the need to do deeds for the betterment of others and God. While this is significant, I think God is more interested in strength and stability than swiftness. We desire the quick fix, the shortcut, the on-the-spot solution. We want a sermon, a seminar, or an experience that will instantly solve all problems, remove all temptation, and release us from all growing pains. We scour the internet and scripture for quick fixes instead of continuing the journey before us.
We forget that growth is gradual. The Bible says, “Our lives gradually become brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like Him”.
People often make their identity around their self perception. We say, “It’s just like me to be…” and “It’s just the way I am.” The worry is that we will not be able to explain ourselves and our actions. It is better to explain these habits as defects or something out of our control. This can definitely slow down your development.
Habits take time to grow and it takes even longer to perform self correction, usually it takes 30 days. Remember that your character is the sum total of your habits. You can’t claim to be kind unless you are habitually kind — meaning you show kindness without even thinking about it. If you are to love your neighbor, then you must willing to present that love or kindness every day. You can’t claim to have integrity unless it is your habit to always be honest.
If we look at Luke 10, we can gain insight from the story of Martha, a woman who was intensely practical. She knew what needed to be done, how much time it would take, and how many people she needed to accomplish the task. But Martha’s schedule left her exhausted. She was focused on swiftness and getting all she could do.
Always thinking, planning and adjusting, but never resting. When others wouldn’t listen to her practicality, she felt ignored and had to work harder. Her busyness led to self-righteousness.
Martha knew the power of God that was in Jesus. She believed He was the Messiah, the Savior of the world, and she knew He could heal any sickness.
Yet, Martha’s focus on tangible, practical issues masked the deeper questions she wrestled with: Why am I the only one working to make things better? Why do people ignore me? Why don’t other people follow the rules? Why am I always worried? Jesus knew this, so when Martha confronted him in exasperation, He paid attention to her. He heard her words, but more than that, He heard her spirit. He redirected her focus, calling her out of her circumstances: “but few things are needed—or indeed only one” (Luke 10:42). The one thing she needed was Him telling her that her sister knew what was needed in this world.
Like Martha, the answer to our anxiety, fear and need for order is to focus all our attention, thought and worship on Jesus. He is the only one who provides lasting purpose to carry out our deepest desires. What are you worried about right now? How can you trust God with your circumstances? Is Jesus the center of your life?
There is only one way to develop the habits of Christ-like character and accomplishing your works for God: You must practice them — and that takes time! There are no instant habits. Paul urged Timothy, “Practice these things. Devote your life to them so that everyone can see your progress”