Trying To Break Bad Habits? You’ll Need Encouragement, Praise, And Patience

by Gospels

Gospel Of Luke 12:32-48

 “There is no need to be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to those in need. Get yourselves purses that do not wear out, treasure that will not fail you, in heaven where no thief can reach it and no moth destroy it. For wherever your treasure is, that is where your heart will be too.’See that you have your belts done up and your lamps lit. Be like people waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast, ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. In truth I tell you, he will do up his belt, sit them down at table and wait on them. It may be in the second watch that he comes, or in the third, but blessed are those servants if he finds them ready. You may be quite sure of this, that if the householder had known at what time the burglar would come, he would not have let anyone break through the wall of his house. You too must stand ready, because the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.’

Peter said, ‘Lord, do you mean this parable for us, or for everyone?’

The Lord replied, ‘Who, then, is the wise and trustworthy steward whom the master will place over his household to give them at the proper time their allowance of food? Blessed that servant if his master’s arrival finds him doing exactly that. I tell you truly, he will put him in charge of everything that he owns. But if the servant says to himself, “My master is taking his time coming,” and sets about beating the menservants and the servant-girls, and eating and drinking and getting drunk, his master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know. The master will cut him off and send him to the same fate as the unfaithful. ‘The servant who knows what his master wants, but has got nothing ready and done nothing in accord with those wishes, will be given a great many strokes of the lash. The one who did not know, but has acted in such a way that he deserves a beating, will be given fewer strokes. When someone is given a great deal, a great deal will be demanded of that person; when someone is entrusted with a great deal, of that person even more will be expected.

Gospel Reflection: Encouragement Goes A Long Way

This week, I thought it might be helpful to discuss how we react when people in our lives try to change some of their patterns of behavior. Let us use the example of someone who drinks too much to the point of performing their job poorly, harming their physical health, or hurting those closest to them. 

The best-case scenario would be that they stop their use of alcohol entirely one day and all becomes right in the world.  However, many people do not come to healing and freedom in this way.  Some people try to make changes by drinking one or two fewer drinks than they normally would, and this needs to be praised and encouraged! 

Another example would be something like smoking.  19 cigarettes a day is better than the full 20 in a pack and might just be a step in the right direction. When people are trying to make changes, they benefit most from encouragement and affirmation of their efforts. They might not have it beat in one day, but they are on their way. 

Too easily, we get frustrated with what we see as slow progress or too little effort, but scolding and putting down the person is not going to help their efforts. It will likely result in more stress and more shame, which results in more smoking or drinking.  This does not only apply to drinking and smoking, but to anything that someone is trying to change. Maybe it is your child trying to get in the habit of making their bed, your coworker trying to work harder at their job, or your friend trying to be more punctual.  Encouragement goes a long way, so consider utilizing encouragement as a way to help people on their journey to healing and virtue.

This reflection was originally published HERE.

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