How People Change: New Habits



We’re talking this month about how people change. We’ve suggested that the principle dynamic for change in a person’s life is his or her union with Christ. Our union with Jesus does something that no program of personal change could ever do: it gives us a new identity and a new power to actually become someone we could never have become on our own. 

Last week we began to look at how the process of change occurs. Though the initial experience of conversion may be a supernatural moment of transformation from death to life, for most of us the actual process of personal change will be gradual and life-long. It involves setting our minds on our new identity in Christ, a daily practice of living into our new identity in Christ, and doing all of this in the context of vulnerable Christian community.

 This Sunday we are going to explore the vital role that habits play in this process of personal change. Very few of us become mature people in momentous events. Rather, we become different people through thousands of tiny ordinary moments, in which our daily habits move us toward one distinct outcome or another. If we want to consider how we might become more like Jesus or become deep lovers of God, we would be wise to attend to the most mundane habits of our every day life and how they are forming us to become a certain kind of person. As Annie Dillard put it, how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. Our daily habits, habits that we can now choose and order constructively through the power of the Holy Spirit, is what constitutes a  path toward personal transformation.

This week we’re excited to hear from Justin Earley as our guest preacher, covenant partner and elder at Third. Justin is the author of the forthcoming book, The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction.

Our weekly worship guide can be found here.


Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.