“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12:1-2 (MSG)
Ever try to stop an old habit and couldn’t? The harder you try the more you think about that habit until it seems to consume you. Take dieting, for example. If I try to focus on not eating certain foods, those seem to be the only foods I want! Frustrating! What’s the secret to breaking bad habits that only reinforce my character flaws? The Bible says God changes us from the inside out. I can cooperate with that change in a few simple ways that will allow God to build character bridges in my life when I …
- Come clean with God and others about the issues I’m dealing with. All of us are dealing with some kind of issues that become barriers in our lives. The Bible says, “If we claim we have no sin, we are only deceiving ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:8-9 (NLT)
- Avoid the triggers that lead me to old behaviors. Here’s where the Scripture becomes so practical. Romans 13:14 (NKJV) says, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” Identify those triggers that make you the most vulnerable to yielding to temptation. When we are the most hungry, angry, lonely or tired, we are more at risk to yielding to temptation. Turn these triggers into prayer targets.
- Be patient and focus on progress, not perfection. Celebrate your victories! Spiritual growth is a process. There’s no such thing as instant maturity. You can’t microwave it. Allow God time to form the character of Christ in you. Philippians 1:6 (NET) says, “For I am sure of this very thing, that the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
- Fully engage with your church family. God designed us to grow in a community of faith. We need one another, and we belong to one another. We are all part of one body, and each member needs the other. Accountability and support encourage us to grow in Christ and help us overcome the temptations that defeat us when we are alone.
The best way I know to conquer the barriers that often separate us from God and others is to build new bridges of character in our lives through these practical steps.