With just over 200 countries affected by COVID-19, one thing is certain: most people have had to adjust the way they live. Things may never be the same again. Think of the impact on the world’s economy, tourism, healthcare, trade, national relations, etc. Some of us will experience the loss of loved ones. Most of us will suffer financially. Social interaction patterns will change. Prejudices may develop or reemerge in our hearts. But these times of uncertainty are also a perfect opportunity to assess our habits and cultivate new ones.
We now have an extended opportunity to consider how our salvation instructs and orders our lives.
Instructed by our Salvation
Paul wrote, “The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly lives in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:11-14). We now have an extended opportunity, often otherwise outside of our capacities, to consider how our salvation instructs and orders our lives. The pandemic can mean that we work harder at waiting for our God and Saviour. We can train our zeal, becoming a possession that pleases God and is effective for Him after the present crisis subsides.
5 Habits to Cultivate
With many of our hobbies and activities affected, we have more time than ever for introspection. As we are in confinement, or facing restricted movements, there are many ways we can redeem our time (Ephesians 5:15-17). We have a chance to reevaluate our priorities and habits, while cultivating healthy loves and investing in people.
1. Take a Critical Approach
Obviously, we are not spared temptation in this time. Plenty of spiritual junk is at our fingertips through a phone or computer. But the stay-at-home policy has put a big dent into our entertainment and social lives. So, ask yourself, “what am I truly missing while being stuck at home?” The answer will indicate what you have grown to value. Some answers may be legitimate and godly. But there could be things we have become accustomed to that lead to ungodliness. Just as our salvation can train us, so too can sinful habits and distractions.
Now is the time to eradicate the superfluous and the fleshly. Now is the time to set up healthier uses of the hours that the Lord grants us each day
Assess and remove the things that needlessly occupy your mind and time. Now is the time to eradicate the superfluous and the fleshly. Now is the time to set up healthier uses of the hours that the Lord grants us each day. To “deny” here indicates a strong pledge to refuse to be associated with anything ungodly or carnal (Titus 2:12). The grace of God doesn’t only achieve freedom from the slavery of sin. For it enables us to grow in an aversion for sin, thus refusing to be exposed to it or influenced by it.
2. Cultivate Christlikeness
As we put off the deeds of the flesh, we need to replace them with actions that promote sensible living. The Christian walk is a divinely enabled growth in Christlikeness. One of the fruits of the inner transformation by the Holy Spirit is self-control. Our desires no longer control us. We can now control our desires and align to God’s will. To “live sensibly” is to increasingly and habitually cultivate a wise, prudent and reasonable life, with our mind set on the things above (Titus 2:12; see Colossians 3:1-2). This cannot be achieved without establishing godly disciplines, latching onto the ordinary means of grace: Bible reading and prayer. So let’s use this time to:
- Refocus our Bible reading, perhaps picking up the plan you started in January
- Spend more time meditating on God’s Word, slowly digesting his truth
- Devote yourself to prayer, especially for our world as countless people suffer under or work towards solutions to COVID-19
- Commit to reading a quality Christian book
- Take a free seminary course online or study a doctrinal issue you have always wanted to
- Practice family devotions within the household
- Tap into the abundance of great sermons and blogs online
Surely there is more we can do with our time and mental space than to laugh at memes or toggle between our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds.
Surely there is more we can do with our time and mental space than to laugh at memes or toggle between our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds
3. Cultivate Charity
God created humans for relationships. His grace further heightens that calling. For God places us in the fellowship of believers, making us citizens of heaven (Ephesians 2:19-22). However, our sinful nature often blinds us to this point. We quickly become oblivious to, or dismissive of, the needs of others. We easily moan and complain about the current situation and fail to pray about how we can be used by God in the lives of others. Granted, our direct contact with others is limited. But we still can call, text, pray, and even transfer money to those who are less privileged. Let us consider the physical and spiritual needs of others.
True charity is not financial, it’s also the disposition of heart that wants to put God on display and seeks the spiritual good of others
Those who want to live “righteously” are those who desire to represent their righteous God to their neighbors (Titus 2:12). It means not amassing all the goods available in the supermarket for yourself; not unnecessarily putting others at risk by ignoring medical authorities and government. And it means not forsaking the assembling with others (Hebrews 10:24-25) even though this might be virtual. “Godly” lives are lives focused on both the vertical and horizontal dimensions (Titus 2:12). True charity is not financial, it’s also the disposition of heart that wants to put God on display and seeks the spiritual good of others.
4. Keep Looking Forward
There is an attentiveness or alertness, a diligence, that is evident in the life of someone who expectantly waits for the return of the Lord (Titus 2:13). We will watch and pray if we truly look forward to Christ’s return (Matthew 26:41). Faith is marked by prayerful waiting (Luke 18:8). Our hope is not in the doctors finding a cure for COVID-19. Nor is our hope in life ‘going back to the normal’ – though these are honorable thoughts. Our hope is ultimately in the return of Jesus Christ. For he will right every wrong and abolish sin along with its effects, once and for all. We fear when we forget how the story ends.
Christ will right every wrong and abolish sin along with its effects, once and for all. We fear when we forget how the story ends
Panic stirs when we forget that God is still on the throne (Psalm 115:3). We fret when we live as if there were not an afterlife of abundant joy in His presence awaiting us. Look up and fix your gaze on the author and perfecter of your faith (Hebrews 12:1-2). Cultivate a habit of looking forward to Christ’s return. How will others put their trust our God if they see us dread the current state of affairs as much as they do?
5. Cultivate Commitment
As believers, Christ died for us so we can live for Him. We need to cultivate a visible commitment to these truths. We were chosen before the foundation of the world to become a purified vessel to be used by God for His glory. By grace we were saved to do good deeds. Our deeds cannot save us, but they are the evidence of the salvation purchased for us.
Christians are marked by a single-mindedness and determination that faithfully worships and witnesses to the One who sought us out (Luke 19:10; Titus 2:14). May we be marked by a commitment to kill sin in our lives, may we be known for our passion for Christ and the lost. May we be notorious for being fervent evangelists and relentless prayer warriors. And may those who observe our good deeds “glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12). Soli Deo Gloria.