Habits and Diligence

Matthew 12:43-45

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order.  Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”

After I read these verses I wrote the verse numbers on a slip of paper that I keep on the nightstand by my bed.  I keep paper and pen there for just such an occasion.  The note that I wrote about these verses was just two words; habits and diligence.

Christ speaks of how we suddenly decide to clean up our act and begin to lead a righteous life.  We start saying and doing the right thing, and for a while we keep on the straight and narrow.

Why did we decide it was time to become righteous?  What was the catalyst? Was it because someone gave us an ultimatum? Was it through some outside influence that we decided we at least need to give the appearance of trying to exercise our demons?

The real question is, did it come from the heart?

Seeking righteousness and living a righteous life is like any other change in one’s lifestyle.  You must want it.  You must truly want to change.

People will only change when they truly want to change and not a moment sooner.

I was a smoker.  I smoked around a pack a day on average for twenty two years.  I started the habit when I was sixteen years old.  When I reached my late twenties, I had a wife, kids and a mortgage.  I had responsibilities and was building a life.  I knew I should quit.  I wanted to be around to watch my children grow up and I wanted to grow old with my wife.

Everyone told me I should quit, and I tried a number of times but I always went back to the habit.  Why? Was it because nicotine was so over powering that I couldn’t help myself? Was it because they didn’t have medications to help ease the withdrawal? Or, was it because vaping hadn’t been invented?

No! The reason I always failed is because I didn’t want to quit.

My attempts at quitting were just putting on a show for others who were harassing me about quitting.  I knew it was harmful, but quitting wasn’t etched in my heart.  The desire to go through the struggle wasn’t there.

I eventually quit, cold turkey.  One day it became clear in my heart that this is what I needed and wanted to do.  I quit when I wanted to quit.  All the previous attempts that failed were because I didn’t want to see it all the way through.  I didn’t want to put in the hard work to make the change. I had to develop the habit of not smoking and had to be diligent about not backsliding.

My smoking habit ended on December 30, 1995 and I haven’t touched a tobacco product since that day.  It was difficult at first.  The only thing that kept the demon from returning was my determination and diligence to keep my house clean.  To this very day I still enjoy the aroma of a lit cigarette, but there is no desire to take a drag.

And so Christ is telling us that when you clean your house,  clean your life of covetousness and worldly desires, be sure to do it from your heart.  For if the desire comes from your heart you will be ever diligent and faithful in insuring that the demons do not return.  If it comes from your heart, it will be filled with righteousness and there will be no room for the worldly desires of life.

© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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