22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.
For many, Lent has been associated as a season of “giving up” things. The historical Christian practice during Lent is giving up something that creates physical yearning so you can turn that physical yearning into a Spiritual yearning for God as you move through this 40 day season of penitence and self denial.
But I would argue that Lent is equally about “taking on” things – but to do that will require us to redeem the word “habit.”
Whenever you hear the word “habit,” what comes to mind? If you’re like me, you might initially think of a habit as something that we need to stop doing. It might be overeating, staying up too late, or any of the very long list of human habits that have proved to be harmful to ourselves and others.
Lent brings another orientation to the word “habit” for me. It makes me intentionally think of the good habits that I can develop that will improve my relationship with God and with others. Habits like; studying Scripture in depth, developing a sincere prayer life, regularly attending passionate worship, or joining a small group of committed Christians who grow Spiritually together, and so on.
Lent encourages us to do more than just repent of our sinful lives. Lent encourages us to develop positive habits that enhance our lives. It’s more than eliminating the negatives – it’s filling up that void with positives.
In the Disciple 1 Bible study class my wife and I are co-facilitating, we recently studied the book of Galatians. That’s the book where Paul brings us that glorious list of nine “fruits of the Spirit.” If you’re looking for a new positive habit to intentionally embrace during Lent, I highly recommend you repeatedly pray through Paul’s list of nine fruits (habits?) of the Spirit and listen for the nudging of the Holy Spirit.
Let the Spirit guide you to just one. Then use the rest of Lent to intentionally invite (and cooperate with) the Spirit to help you grow a new (or greatly improved) habit that glorifies God. I know I have a lot of room to grow. Do you? Lent is half over. Easter is coming. Will you be ready to celebrate a New Creation in you? After all, isn’t that what this whole Jesus story is all about?