Sermon Illustrations

HABITS

The American Heritage Dictionary "A recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition." It comes from the idea "to have, to hold, possess." Roman poet Ovid in 43 BC: "Nothing is stronger than habit." Habit is a cable; we weave a thread each day, and at last we cannot break it.

FLEA TRAINING

Fleas can jump extremely high (13" or 200x its length, equivalent to 900’); that’s how they get from animal to animal. A flea is caught and put in a jar. Without a lid, it’s simple for the flea to escape by just popping right out of the jar. So, the flea trainer quickly puts a lid on the jar, then he leaves it for three days.

When the flea jumps, BANG, it hits the lid and falls down. Over and over, the flea will jump and BANG hit the lid. After some time, you can see that the flea is jumping just almost to the lid, but not quite. He jumps and jumps, not quite hitting the top, but jumping as high as he can.

Now, that seems like a pretty smart flea to me. But, what’s strange is to see what happens when you take the lid off. The flea continues to jump just almost to where the lid was. It won’t jump any higher. Its offspring continue to follow suit.

The flea hit a limit to what it could do. He decided that he could not go any higher and then never tried to improve. Even though the limit was gone, he was stuck in a rut--doing just what he always did and not challenging himself.

D.L. Moody said, "Your character is simply a long habit continued."

We first make our habits, and then our habits make us. Psychological studies show that it usually takes six weeks to

make or break a habit. If you find that you can’t do something today, don’t assume you will never be able to do it. Try it again tomorrow or next week. You might hit the lid occasionally but you won’t be held back by any imaginary limits that you can outgrow.

(From a sermon by Ralph Andrus, "01 Habits of the Heart" 1/23/2009)

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