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A Habit Letter to My Grandchildren

Dear Grandchildren:

All people are creatures of habit, and that, of course, includes you boys and girls.  What does that mean?  Well, the way you always tie your shoe laces is a habit.  When you first had to learn that tricky task you were shown how.  Then you tried it, and tried it a second time and third time, etc.  There seems to be a first time for every activity, but if you do not try it a second time you will never make it a habit.  You say, “Of course, everybody knows that.” True, but I am aiming at something that may help you some way later on.

There are good habits and bad habits.  Tidying up your bedroom before you go to school is a good habit.  And to get into that habit you had to remember it the second time, and the third time in a row, so you made it a habit.  Just remember the rule, repeating a certain action a few times the same way makes it a habit.

A bad habit in your life might be that you postpone your homework until early morning, before breakfast, instead of the night before.  So, if you are guilty of that, three times in a row, you are cultivating a bad habit.

Another good habit is to eat wholesome foods at certain times: a bad habit is to eat junk foods at frequent times.  Again, three or four times in a row might get you in a rut – lo, a habit has been formed.

Of course, because we are prone to sin, making bad habits comes so easily.  I am not going to discuss good habits, but those from which we should free ourselves.  All those bad ones have one common denominator.  They start—first step, it calls for a second, then a third, etc.  Now you have a full blown habit in your knapsack.  Are both kinds the same in every way?  No, the good ones can easily be used to satisfy our needs, like eating breakfast, lunch and dinner the same time every day; but it can easily become bad by eating too much.  Now bad habits are due to sin, and we have a common enemy who delights in seeing a Christian fall into sin.  He is Satan, and his fallen angels, the devils, are ready to help him.

Your gramps knows people who smoked their first cigarette, bummed from a friend, but that first called for a second, third, and boom! a habit was formed.  That habit is injurious to good health, and forms a craving for more and more.  This habit is so bad that it sometimes results in lung cancer.  That sequence, first, second, third repeats does not necessarily result in lung cancer.  No, people are known to have quit the habit for the rest of their lives.  Quitting any habit is not easy, but you have known many that have done just that.

There is another bad habit among young people, and that is pilfering.  Taking some object from a store shelf, putting it in one’s pocket and leaving.  That is plain stealing.  I am learning that there is another bad habit creeping into lives of some of our own young people.  That is the use of alcohol just for fun.  Shame on you!  Don’t you know that a small habit grows into a big one?  That “now and then” drink becomes a steady habit when with friends in a congenial situation.  Do you realize how serious that is?   The Bible clearly states that a drunkard cannot inherit the kingdom of God.  Realizing that it wasn’t the first drink, but the second, third and fourth that made it a habit.  So, young people, please refuse the fourth, the third, the second, and yes, the first one.

But there is one more habit said to be found among our young people.  I can hardly believe it, but one of your girl companions wrote about it in our STANDARD BEARER.  That is such a vile habit, so harmful to your body, so low down dirty that I won’t even use the word in this clean magazine. I’ll just call it “dirty word.”  I hear that “dirty word” is “done.” They say that some of you “do it.” Others smoke it, and others (action most vile) “inject” it into your veins.  Either way, that “dirty word” practice is, according to the Heidelberg Catechism, “killing the body.” That, young people, is suicide.  Remember, a suicider cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Initially I had said that I would not say the “dirty word,” but I can after all say it initially, with this silly sentence, Don’t Ruin Uncle George’s Socks.

So, dear Grandchildren, do not let a little habit grow up into a Bad habit.  Bad habits are sin.  And sin can only be covered by the shed blood of Christ.

I suppose you are not surprised that this letter has turned out to be another sermon.  Listen to it.

Love, Gramps