I recently decided to make some large changes in my life, and I find myself struggling with them a bit. One reason is because the way I used to do thing had become a habit, a bad habit. But whether good or bad, habits are hard to break.
A person like me loves to reminisce about what I used to do sometimes because what I used to do sounds so awesome. How I used to be before forming more recent habits was a lot closer to where I wanted to be, so it can be easy to try to reach back for it. I would say that there’s no progress in going back, but there is:
We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.
Of course, we can never go back to the way that it was because we aren’t who we were, but reinstituting old habits isn’t attempting to go back in time if they are the habits of the right road. This is an illustration of repentance. Repentance is a turning away from sin and a turning back to God. Scripture says if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us (James 4:8).
I titled this the Habit of Mediocrity for a reason. In recent memory, I think that I’ve been caught up in “good enough.” I haven’t been striving anymore, just coasting. Even one step is closer to your goal than you were before and all of that. I’ve been stuck on “getting by,” on working hard enough to have just enough to get from one day to the next, and often falling short a few days. I’ve been existing and surviving and not living and thriving. Which would be perfectly fine if life were supposed to be without progress. No one goes to war with the objective neither to advance nor to retreat; if life is a war, the point is to win battles and conquer territories.
In his last sermon of 2013, Bro. Harvey Drummer stated that if our life has grown stagnant, it’s because we are living in sin. It took me off guard at the moment, but I wrote it down to ponder. He referenced Psalms 1:1-3. Those who delight in God and meditate on his word are planted by rivers of water, growing fruit, not wilting. God is life, and growth; he produces fruit in our lives. Ergo if we aren’t producing fruit…
Jesus says that those trees or branches that aren’t producing good fruit will be cut down and cast into the fire (Matt 7:19; John 15:2,6). In John 15:3, Jesus tells us that we cannot produce fruit by ourselves, that we only produce fruit when we abide in Him. So if we aren’t producing fruit, we are not abiding in Him, which means we are in sin.
So if I’m not getting anywhere or feel stagnant, I need to check my life. I need to repent of my sins and confess them. I need to be forgiven. Most importantly, I need to abide in Christ.
One of my favorite passages of scripture used to be I Cor. 9:24-27:
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
Doing just enough to get by, doing good enough, and coasting aren’t going to get you anywhere and are not Biblical principles at all. The Bible talks about giving more than eye service (Eph. 6:6) or lip service Matt 15:8-9) to the things we are supposed to do. We are to do it all as if we are doing it to/for the Lord (Col 3:23). Once we put our hand to the plow, we aren’t to get distracted, but to go forward (Luke 9:59-62). Just because we took the steps to sign up for this Christian race and trained for it doesn’t mean we’ve already won it. We have to live life, or run, in a way that we obtain the prize.
There are many scriptures that talk about running this race and achieving the prize, but this one speaks to where I am in my life. I have to stop running aimlessly and beating the air. I need to run this race with purpose. I’ve trained myself to be mediocre. That’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s the truth. Now it’s time to lay aside every weight and sin that has so easily beset me, especially the sin of slothfulness, and run with patience the race set before me (Heb. 12:1). I pray that you will do the same.
Lacing up my running shoes,