Grace and Peace,
It is January again; the start of a new calendar year. In our culture this has be-come a time when we assess our lives and identify areas that we wish to change or improve. We make New Year’s resolutions to eat better, exercise more, or change destructive behaviors. Due to these resolutions it is also the time of the year gyms love because they get countless new members, who show up once or twice, and cause no real extra work for them. We aren’t always great at following through and creating lasting new routines. We get very used to the patterns of our lives once formed.
However, the effort and work we put in to create new habits is good. The desire to want to change, dare I say “repent” of old habits, is something we should not stop trying. There is a piece of scripture related to this which often seems misinter-preted. Matthew 6:21, in a passage full of words of wisdom, says “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Mark Allan Powell, a prominent Lutheran New Testament theologian, says this is not about measuring your faith based on your giving, but rather creating habits which lead to a change of heart. He points out that the habit or routine, here the practice of giving money, comes first. The heart follows. His point is that we should create our routines and patterns not to fit the lives we lead now, but the lives of faith that we desire to have.
If we live into the patterns, putting in the hard work even when we do not have the heart to back them up, we will be formed by them and will have a change of heart.
So I encourage you, in the midst of die-tary changes, work out routines, and resolutions to start journaling, to also consider the life of faith that you desire to have and work to create routines to help shape you for it. Take time to read scripture and for devotion, whether to start your day, on a lunch break, or before bed. Pray, not only on your own as you close your eyes on your pillow, but also with your family. Schedule it to make sure it happens. Perform acts of service and charity, showing God’s love to a world that needs that witness. Even if you don’t always feel like it, do it, and God will work to bring about change in you.
Yours in Christ,