Old Habits and The Holidays

David Marvin & Emma Dotter | 12.26.20

We all know those hometown vibes … you haven’t been home in months, but you still know your way around like nobody’s business. You walk into your favorite restaurant and the staff remembers you from your high school glory days, or maybe, you just can’t wait to hang at your favorite coffee shop in town.

But then there are the things about going home we just can’t seem to escape—old friends. When we hang out with them, we end up doing things we know we shouldn’t and fall back into old ways. We lose our routine, so we lose the habit of reading our Bibles. We’re back with the fam, and before we know it we’ve turned into our 7th grade selves … with lots and lots of arguing. Somehow the holidays can seem to bring out all of our old habits—all the hang-ups we thought we’d grown out of.

The holidays aren’t over yet though. There’s still time to turn it around.

How are you doing?

Some of us are feeling great, we’d even say we crushed Christmas. But others of us are feeling pretty discouraged. We had high hopes for how different this holiday season would be—we wanted to be in our Bibles every day, be a good influence on our old friends, and share the gospel with our families.

Be honest with yourself. If that’s you, and you haven’t met your goals, it’s normal to be discouraged; but it’s not too late to change the direction of your holiday break!

The reality is that all of us fall short, we mess up—even when we don’t want to. You’re not alone! In Romans 7, Paul writes, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” His point is that there’s something inside of all of us that’s broken. All of us are sinners who fall short of God’s standard for our lives (Romans 3:23). We can have the very best of intentions and still mess up, and, sometimes, that gets pretty discouraging, but we can…

Have hope.

In the face of disappointment, there’s good news! Paul goes on to ask, “Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin?” And then he answers, “Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord! So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” Paul is saying that if you’ve placed your trust in Jesus, you aren’t defined by your shortcomings.

But it gets even better, because not only does Jesus remove your sin from your record, he also gives you the power to live differently. Paul goes on to say, “And because you belong to Jesus, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin!” If you’re a Christian, you’ve been adopted into God’s family and have been given His Spirit—the Holy Spirit who restrains evil and shows us what is good and what is bad, but you’re in control of how you respond to that nudge inside you. You can…

Head in a different direction.

New Year’s Eve is coming and the holidays aren’t over. So when it comes to the rest of this holiday season, ask yourself how you’re going to use your time and who you’re going to hang out with. Do you have a good plan?

If you sense the Spirit convicting you about how you’ve been spending your time, it’s not too late to change things by making a plan for the remaining few days. If your goal was to get more time in the Word, start simply and simply start. Try one of the gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Maybe start with reading one chapter of Proverbs each day. Make it a reachable and realistic goal that you can commit to.

For the rest of your vacation, be intentional and thoughtful about what time you’re going to bed and waking up—what’s your plan for the rest of today? How are you going to use your time? Think through how you can spend more quality time in the Word this week.


Whenever we fail to meet our goals, we get pretty discouraged. But the good news is that Jesus wants to redeem the rest of our holiday plans—you’re not too far gone. He’s not mad at you. Keep seeking Him and keep praying. He’s with you through it all.


David Marvin & Emma Dotter

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