In thinking about habits, my mind pictured a nun wearing one. Being a word person as many of us are, I looked up the word “habit”, wanting to know how this word became the name of her clothing. The word “habit” originally meant dress or attire. It later took on the connotation of a physical or mental constitution or state. Author, Elizabeth Kuhns’ defines, in her book The Habit: A History of the Clothing of Catholic Nuns, the term “habit” as referring to “the ensemble of clothing and accessories that make up religious dress. It can also mean specifically the robe-like tunic or dress that is the main garment worn over the body.”
A habit is worn. A habit addresses who we are or what we are by doing something habitually. It is worn constantly, ceaselessly. A habit is done frequently, recurrently, perpetually.
I think of the verses in Ephesians telling me to be renewed and wear the likeness of Christ. But that is not the way you learned Christ!–assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:20-24
And the words in Colossians 3:1-3: Put On the New Self
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
As I go down into the water with a special robe, I am made new, removing all of my old clothing. I come to the water’s surface with a sopping wet robe and have received the clothing of Christ in my new birth. I remove the wet robe. I am made brand new and have the new habit of Christ in my life. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Galatians 3:27
To begin this new year … wanting to perfect a new habit means to me, today, that I begin anew. I have received Christ. He makes all things new. Since memorizing Scripture is a big desire for 2011, I could say that I want to “get in the habit of memorizing God’s Word”. Yet, I know how my desire to start new with something often goes. I start just fine. But after a short while, I skip a day, then two, then three and more. Finally, I am not doing this “habit” at all and feeling guilty. I do not want guilt. I want to memorize Scripture. I walk with Jesus and ask for His mind to memorize the words for me. He is the Word and knows the words in His Book. He can place them in my mind as He places Himself in me. He is my habit. He is the clothing I wear. It is through trust, prayer, and relationship with the Word that I will have the Word inscribed upon my heart…and only in these ways as I surely cannot do this on my own. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16
I lay my body down in His Living Waters and am renewed. I come up above the surface with Him, with His clothing on. I am dressed in Christ and not nakedly guilty. I live a habit because Christ lives in me. Does this make sense? It is beginning to for me. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21
LORD Jesus, will You be the only habit I need? With You, all things are possible. I can memorize Your Word. I can read Your Word each day. I can pray ceaselessly. I can be obedient to Your call. I can care for Mom in the way You would have me care for and love her. I can give living water and love to the least of these. I can accomplish what concerns me today, what concerns You today! With You as my habit … But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”(Matthew 19:26) Amen and Amen.