Introduction: For a very long time I have attended a weekly Bible
study group. Those groups change over the years. Sometimes I am in
charge, and sometimes I am not. (I prefer it when I’m not in charge.)
Recently, I told the friend hosting our current Bible study that we
might have three new people show up that night. Turned out, none of
them showed up. Why? Unlike the current members of the group,
attending has not become a habit. Have you noticed that you can make
new habits that improve your life? Recently, I’ve created the habit
of going to the gym. What habits would you like to create? What
habits does the Bible tell us to adopt? Let’s dive into our study of
the Bible and find out!

  1. Love Habit

    1. Read Ephesians 5:1-2. If you were asked if you loved God
      and loved your co-workers, what would you say? (For many
      years I was concerned that I did not love God, and I
      certainly knew I did not love most of the people I knew –
      unless they were family.)

      1. How you define love is important here. How would you
        describe love? (I think of it as an emotional, often
        romantic feeling. Although today I have an emotional
        love of God, I don’t think emotion begins to describe
        what the Bible has in mind when it tells us to “walk
        in the way of love.”)

    2. Re-read Ephesians 5:2. How is loved described? (As self-sacrifice.)

      1. When you are talking to someone, tell me which is of
        more interest to you:

        1. Learning more about the other person; or,

        2. Telling something about yourself that relates
          to the subject and puts you in a good light?
          (The former Dean of my law school, Jeffrey
          Brauch, has a wonderful habit. Whenever I
          listen to him speak with a student, he always
          intently listens and asks questions. He does
          the same when talking with me. That taught me a
          valuable habit of love – preferring to focus in
          conversations on others rather than myself.)

    3. Read Ephesians 5:3-4. Does this mean that flirting and
      appearing to have money are wrong? What is wrong with an
      occasional “mature” joke?

      1. What is the suggested alternative to this kind of
        talk? (Thankfulness! Giving thanks to God.)

    4. Read Ephesians 5:5. Why is this arguably innocent talk a
      problem? (The problem is that it reflects a heart of
      immorality, impurity and love of money. What we say
      generally reflects what we think. Our speech is a window
      into our heart.)

      1. What does the Bible say is the root problem? (That
        “person is an idolater.”)

        1. How is that true? I don’t know a single person
          who makes an idol and then bows down and
          worships it. (Be honest. Isn’t all of this kind
          of talk selfish is some way? The coarse joke is
          generally at the expense of someone else – and
          makes you look smart, right? Flirting, would
          you admit, strengthens your relationship (or
          your ego) at the expense of the person’s
          spouse? Talk about your wealth tells others you
          are better than they are. What does all of this
          get you? It pumps up your image of yourself!
          You worship yourself.)

        2. Can you see the thread of logic that runs
          through all of this? (The theme is to exchange
          the habit of love for yourself for concern for
          others. Thankfulness focuses your mind on the
          kindness of others.)

        3. What can you do to break that habit and replace
          it with unselfish talk? (We need to be alert to
          the problem, and ask the Holy Spirit to change
          our hearts.)

    5. Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-4. How would you rate the
      background of these people? (They had many spiritual

      1. Are they like us?

    6. Read 1 Corinthians 10:5. What is the problem? (Despite
      these spiritual advantages, they displeased God and they

    7. Read 1 Corinthians 10:6. Why is Paul reciting this
      history? (He wants us to learn a lesson about setting our
      heart on evil things.)

      1. Is there a connection between our habits and setting
        our hearts? (Yes. We just discussed becoming aware of
        the issue of our habits, and then asking the Holy
        Spirit to change our heart.)

    8. Read 1 Corinthians 10:7-11. What does grumbling have in
      common with sexual immorality and idol worship? (It is the
      same thing we have been discussing. Grumbling arises from
      a focus on yourself.)

  2. Trust Habit

    1. Read Matthew 6:28. What would you answer? (Worry is often
      about how you appear to others. No one wants to be

    2. Read Matthew 6:29-30. What habit is Jesus encouraging us
      to adopt? (The habit of trusting God and not worrying.)

    3. Read Matthew 6:31-33. What is the first priority for
      pagans? (Running after clothes, food, drink and things.)

      1. What should be our first priority? (Seeking God’s
        kingdom and His righteousness. God gives us all of
        these “things” the pagans seek as a bonus!)

      2. Let’s look at this in terms of habits. What is the
        first thing you think about in the morning? Is it
        what you need to do for work? What you need to do to
        amuse yourself? Money?

        1. How would your life be different if your first
          thoughts in the morning were about how you
          could improve your walk with God? What you
          could do to advance the Kingdom of God?

    4. Read James 4:13-14. How would you compare this to the
      pagans we just read about who worry all the time about
      getting things? (This is somewhat different. These are
      people who plan the future.)

      1. Is there anything wrong with planning? (Planning
        without God being in the picture is the problem. Our
        personal planning has the serious problem that we,
        unlike God, cannot predict the future.)

    5. Read James 4:15. What should be at the center of all of
      our plans? (God’s will! We should not only develop the
      habit of not worrying, we should develop the habit of
      putting God at the center of our plans.)

  3. Mind Habits

    1. Read Philippians 4:6. Does this seem to be a summary of
      our discussion so far?

    2. Read Philippians 4:7. What is the result of putting in
      place these habits? (Peace from God. Peace that guards our
      hearts and minds. Peace that others do not understand.)

    3. Read Philippians 4:8. Consider testing your mental habits
      against what we have been learning. When you think about
      yesterday, did your mind take in things that were right,
      pure, lovely and admirable? (Many of us need better mental
      habits. I recall some friends talking about movies they
      had seen or wanted to see. My immediate thought was that
      they were boring – and then I felt guilty because these
      were noble, pure and lovely movies.)

      1. What do you think it means to focus your mind on what
        is “true?” How about “admirable?” “Praiseworthy?”
        (How much of your thinking is on routine matters?
        How much of your thinking is spent on things that
        don’t matter – or, if they matter, could get you into
        trouble? This suggests that we develop the habit of
        thinking “great” thoughts. Thoughts about how you
        might apply God’s word to your job, your family
        relationships, politics, economics, your church, and
        your life.)

    4. Friend, do your habits need renovation? If so, invite the
      Holy Spirit, right now, to guide your mind and your words
      into a better set of habits!

  4. Next week: The Results of Stewardship.