Friday, March 30, 2012

The Safest Road To Hell Is The Gradual One

"Indeed the safest road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts,… Your affectionate uncle, Screwtape.”  C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Habits are extremely important.  They are also frustrating.  Experts say that it generally takes between two and three months to establish a habit; it takes only two consecutive days to begin to break the habit.  The devil understands this well. Thus his strategy is to gently nudge us in the wrong direction.   He knows that if we truly saw where we were headed, we would immediately turn away.  So, he just softly leads us in the wrong direction, knowing that momentum is a difficult thing to change.

He constantly feeds us the line, “this one time will not matter.”  He encourages us to think, “This one day won’t matter”, or “I will start tomorrow.”  Soon one time becomes two, two becomes three, and before we know it, the habit is established.  One day becomes two, and before we know it, a week has passed. Once that week has passed, it is so difficult to shift the momentum back in the right direction.

Aristotle said it this way, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."  Developing good habits and being vigilant about maintaining those habits will lead to a life of excellence.

Some reading this have a bad habit they have been trying to break for a long time.  While good habits take a seemingly long time to develop, bad habits are annoyingly stubborn.  Remember too, however, experts say that two consecutive days of not doing something and the habit begins to weaken.  The old adage is, “one day at a time.” I say to you, not one day, but two.  Don’t do whatever it is for two days straight. You will notice that the bad habit has less power over you – not that it is completely gone, but it is weakening.  Then repurpose yourself to another two days. Before long, the habit will be broken.

Try also to begin to develop good habits.  You know what they are.  Set your sight on just two consecutive days, the set the goal of two more days.  Before long, you will have established a good habit. And, give yourself grace if you fail.  Do not ever believe you cannot do it.  Just take the next right step… and then take one more.

Finally, you do not have to do it alone.  In fact, often we cannot do it alone, as hard as we try. His grace is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).  He will help you and give you strength.  And other people can be a big help in keeping you accountable and encouraging you.  Do not be afraid to ask for help. 

The devil will gradually try and shift you in the wrong direction. That is why this very day matters.  Take a stand and do what is right. Change directions and shift the momentum. James put it this way, “Stand firm against the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7.