“Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.” 1 John 3:7b
To practice: 1. perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency. 2. carry out or perform (a particular activity, method, or custom) habitually or regularly.
I think about what I’m good at, what I do proficiently. There are some things that are natural to me, but when you continue to do them, you get better and you don’t have to think about it. I was given the talent early on of sight reading music. I can look at a sheet of music and it isn’t that hard for me to read it – just like I would read a book. If it’s really really complicated, it takes more time, but most of the music I see just makes sense to me. I can’t say that I had to work incredibly hard at it, but I did have to practice and perform the activity of reading music over and over to really master it.
It’s much like love. Some love comes easily. It’s so easy to love my daughter. I don’t have to put one ounce of effort into it. even when she starts screaming I don’t love her any less, in fact, my love for her compels me to do everything I can to help her feel better.
And it’s much like sin. We get really really good at sin. Because we do it so much. We get great at rationalizing what we do, the choices we make. It’s not that big of a deal. It won’t hurt any body. No one will ever find out.
One of my piano teachers told me I had bad habits, that I must have learned incorrectly. I smile now about it because I’ve reverted to those bad habits, but guess who cares?! The point though is that our habits are everything. And they may start as hard work but eventually, the habit is formed and you do it without even thinking about it.
I don’t want to be good at sin. I want to really suck at it. I want it to be that I cannot even bear to go a full day without facing my failures and repenting of them, asking forgiveness first of God and then of those in harm’s way. I want to be incapable of forming habits of sin, instantly realizing how I rationalize what I do or how I’m tempted to put off for another day the hard work of stopping my sinfulness in its tracks, recognizing my need for grace and asking God to replace my heart with His righteousness. And as He breaks my habits, let it be replaced with love. Let it be that I love easily, that I love without effort, that I love God and others proficiently and habitually, that love will come out of my heart as naturally as water from a spring, that it will make sense and be as seamless as it is to breathe without thinking about breathing.
Today I will practice love. Tomorrow I will practice love. And the next day and the next.