It’s been said that habits are like a cable: “We weave a strand of it every day and soon it cannot be broken” (Horace Mann). Habits can be good, and nearly all habits begin as routines. How we start the day, how and when we entertain ourselves, and the ways we use our time become our habits. For better or for worse, these simple routines and choices we make have a far-reaching effect on how we live.
The Bible is God’s instruction book on the best ways to live our lives. With life lessons and stories from people who both lived and rejected what it means to live righteously, the Bible serves as Ground Zero for an individual wanting to develop advantageous habits. Elementary enough, the best way for us to begin living by these habits is to study them in God’s Word. But one study from LifeWay Research suggests that only 19% of churchgoers actually read their Bible daily, with another 18% saying they rarely or never read the Bible. The Bible tells us to hold fast to it, live by its principles, and treasure its words in our hearts. But how can we do these things if we are not reading it?
Setting Bible reading as a priority is monumental if we desire to grow in Christianity and our personal, professional, and even financial lives. But if we routinely put it off, that too soon will become a habit. I made Bible reading a priority each morning before work. It was the first objective I had and I started the day with it. When I had a major move and lifestyle change, my Bible reading took secondary priority. It did not take long for my new routine to take precedence and my Bible reading continued to move down the ladder of priorities, to where the only time God’s word was opened was during Sunday morning service. I became so adjusted to my new routine it became a habit, a bad habit, and it was hard to break. The way I broke the old habit was to make Bible reading a priority again, and after I did, it came easily again.
It reminds me of a story I read regarding fostering habits. There are many variations to the story, but the premise remains the same.
A wealthy man requested an old scholar to wean his son away from his bad habits. The scholar took the youth for a stroll through a garden. Stopping suddenly he asked the boy to pull out a tiny plant growing there.
The youth held the plant between his thumb and forefinger and pulled it out. The old man then asked him to pull out a slightly bigger plant. The youth pulled hard and the plant came out, roots and all. “Now pull out that one,” said the old man pointing to a bush. The boy had to use all his strength to pull it out.
“Now take this one out,” said the old man, indicating a guava tree. The youth grasped the trunk and tried to pull it out. But it would not budge. “It’s impossible,” said the boy, panting with the effort.
“So it is with bad habits,” said the sage. “When they are young it is easy to pull them out but when they take hold they cannot be uprooted.”
One novelist noted these profound words when they wrote, “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.” As preacher and author Dr. David Jeremiah commentated, “It’s easy to lose the connection between actions and destiny. In between are habits and character, the stuff of which lifetimes are made and destinies are realized... Don’t lose sight of the connection between today’s acts and tomorrow’s destiny.”
Bible reading is a critical habit to prioritize and foster because through it we develop our worldview and our character. C. S. Lewis emphasized the importance of this when he said “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen not only because I see it but because by it I see everything else.” The same should be true for us. If we believe Christianity is true, then we must adopt it as our worldview and live and develop our lives for the glory of Christ.