The world is full of bad habits. People across every continent smoke despite knowing how damaging it is to their bodies. Citizens of every country overindulge in alcohol even though they know it is addictive, dangerous and, at the very least, leads to unpleasant hangovers and utter humiliation when they are drunk. Members of every nationality and religion have terrible habits that they simply cannot seem to break. Sometimes, however, people do not even realize they have such bad habits. In fact, sometimes people do not even realize that their habits are problematic at all.
Most people tend to assume that whatever is common is accepted. Whatever is considered normal is thought to be right. This, however, is not always accurate. It is completely possible for unsavory behavior to be widespread, but that does not mean that such behavior is acceptable. Christians are not immune to this phenomenon. Plenty of Christians have adopted or failed to break terrible habits simply because the habits are so common that Christians seem to have forgotten that they were unacceptable in the first place. Here are six common habits that all Christians need to break.
Little White Lies
Everyone tells several lies a day. If you doubt that you lie that often, ask yourself how often you say that you are doing well even when you are miserable or how often you tell someone you are pleased to meet them when you really could care less. Consider how often you say that something is no problem even when it is a great inconvenience. How many times a day do you say you are sorry when you are not actually sorry at all? These are small things, the epitome of little white lies, but they are still lies.
Christians know that they should not lie. Many of them do it regardless and justify those little white lies by claiming they are sparing someone else’s feelings or simply following social convention. Christians are called, however, to be better than this world. As Romans 12 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Stop telling those little lies. If your honest opinion would hurt someone, deflect the question, but cease outright lying.
Taking the Lord’s Name in Vain
Most Christians would claim that they do not use the Lord’s name in vain, but a great many do exactly that relatively regularly. That is, after all, what a person is doing whenever they say “Oh my God” in shock, excitement or anger. God, Lord and Jesus Christ are all commonly used as exclamations or as a sort of curse when someone is upset. Christians know better than this, yet they continue to take the Lord’s name in vain. Part of the reason for this, no doubt, is that it has become so normalized. People say “Oh my God” so much that it has become shortened to “OMG” in text and online speech, and few people think twice about yelping “Jesus!” when they are startled. Overexposure to this sort of blasphemy has dulled Christians’ responses to it, but it is time Christians stopped going along with it.
The Bible makes it very clear what sort of things people should judge each other on, nothing at all. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged,” states the Gospel of Matthew. Most Christians know that verse well. Not many are terribly good at living up to what it calls people to do. Many Christians look down on others for some reason. Some judge their fellow believers for not being quite as pious or devoted as the judger feels that they are themselves. Other Christians sneer at people for how they dress, speak or their job.
Avoiding judgement also means avoiding snap condemnations based on either a single remark or the group to which a person belongs. It has become common and fashionable to declare people to be racists, communists, sexists and bigots due to nothing more than their political party or a single reshared post. Though no one wants to talk about it, this sort of thinking is a form of passing judgment, and it does nothing more than deepen the divides between people.
Most Christians would whole-heartedly reject the idea that they are hedonistic. In reality, however, many Christians live a more hedonistic life than they believe. One indicator is the fact that a large number of modern Christians are surprisingly wasteful. Someone who lives a frugal, humble life is not going to waste much. Someone who is all about the pleasures of life and the senses, however, is more likely to cast aside what no longer interests them, regardless of whether that item still has a use.
When most people think of hedonism and waste, they tend to visualize someone who drinks good alcohol all the time and throws out perfectly good food after eating only a few bites. Religiously saving your leftovers is not enough to absolve you of accusations of hedonism. Think about how often you get a new phone or tablet. Do you run out to the store as soon as the new model arrives despite the fact that your old phone works just fine? Do you regularly buy new clothing in order to stay in style, regardless of whether or not you need it? If you do, you should probably reexamine your habits.
Taking Poor Care of the Body
Paul states in 1 Corinthians that Christians’ “bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in [them]…Therefore, [they should] honor God with [their] bodies.” This means that Christians should take care of their physical needs as well as their spiritual. Unfortunately, some Christians scorn their physical needs either out of a desire to focus on the spiritual or a lack of interest or knowledge in their own health. Denying the body, even for good reasons, is not a good thing for Christians to do. They need to make sure they get enough sleep, exercise regularly and eat right. This means that occasionally they may need to pass up the pie the pastor made or miss a Sunday morning service in order to catch up on missed sleep. Physical needs are not something that human beings can simply will away, and Christians are not the exception to that rule.
Hypocrisy is perhaps the most common sin in the world right now. One father sneers at another for not spending enough time with his children, but when he goes to the park with his children, he spends the whole time tapping away at his phone. A woman sneers at how vain another woman must be for wearing so much make-up and blithely ignores how much money she herself spends ensuring she has the latest fashions.
Hypocrisy is nothing new, but it was one of the minor sins Christ most despised. There are almost endless stories of Jesus calling out the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, and He undoubtedly would do the same to many Christians today. This is especially true for those who claim to love tolerance and diversity but refuse to be civil to someone of the opposing political party or attempt to intimidate and ostracize those who think differently from them.
Every Christian has bad habits that they need to break. This should not be surprising. After all, no one is perfect. The problem, however, can come from Christians having bad habits that are very common. People do not always register common things as problematic even though common does not necessarily equal good. It is easy for Christians to fall into this trap, but Christians need to examine their habits and tendencies to make sure that they are truly living righteous lives rather than simply conforming to the patterns of an imperfect world.