10 Daily Habits That Will Make You A More Enlightened Christian
Now here’s a word we don’t hear too often – enlightened. I wonder why? Sounds too Buddhist or New Agey? Is it due to its association with the European intellectual movement (17th – 18th c.) emphasizing reason and individualism rather than tradition? (Oxford American Dictionary) I’m using it in its most basic understanding: greater knowledge and understanding of a subject or situation (in this case, God). The word describes a person becoming more spiritually aware; growing in wisdom. I’m using the word to describe Christians who haven’t cemented themselves to their current understanding of God. Nor are they where they were 10-40 years ago.[featured-image single_newwindow=”false”]
Recently on Facebook a friend announced that he was celebrating 50 years of using the same devotional guide book. I wondered why he hadn’t moved on. Remember Our Daily Bread? Good stuff. But for whom? After a while don’t you sense that God is inviting you to a deepening love relationship enlightened by simply being with Him?
Those that know this sense, are commonly in the process of developing these habits:
- Engaging in ordered prayer: This could be morning prayer liturgies or praying the hours throughout the day, saying the Jesus prayer or a phrase from the Psalms. Their heart and mind are focused on the Trinity for moments during the day as communion with God becomes the norm.
- Giving away something of value: Every day they contribute to the needs of others – no strings attached. These are usually small concrete actions for the good of others – helping the guy on the corner; giving a good tip to the server, an anonymous gift to an enemy, or “random” gift to a child; donating to a nonprofit, or thoughtfully serving around the house.
- Acquiescing to scripture: They don’t analyze scripture but let scripture evaluate them. This is allowing scripture to dissect you instead of you dissecting scripture.
- Denying self: They control their appetites and passions primarily by fasting of some kind – from food, drink, TV, computer, radio, movies, books, buying and consuming – for some greater good like communing with God in prayer.
- Practicing thanksgiving: They are in the habit of saying “Thank you” for ALL things. They rarely complain. It’s a priority to learn contentment and be filled up with God.
- Engaging people: They live daily for others. They know life is not about themselves. They look for ways to support others – scanning the scene for opportunities to open a door, pick up a dropped item, let someone go ahead, or smile.
- Doing meaningful work: They develop practical ways to bloom where planted. They turn the mundane into prayer, sing in the struggles, see beauty in the hardship, and actually labor in the Lord.
- Living daily to know God: They take daily steps to figure out how to awaken and see God everywhere. Their experience of union with Christ is maturing. They are slowly learning to commune with God in ordinary life.
- Refraining from judging others: They daily pray, “keep a watch over my mouth” and take intentional steps to, at least, not speak judgment towards others. Their goal, by God’s grace, is to be as loving to others as He is to them.
- Exercising ego-shattering disciplines: They continually ask for mercy. Daily they pray liturgically in solitude and silence. They prevent conversations to center on themselves. They fast, give generously, and pray constantly. They intentionally keep their opinions in check and are quick to acknowledge when they mess up. They listen well and talk little.
None of these habits address becoming enlightened directly. Growing in wisdom is a byproduct of communion with God.
To which habit are you most drawn? Which habit do you most need to develop?