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The Creeping Influence of Bad Habits

Discipline (Self) Character Self-control

Source: Atomic Habits by James Clear, Ramdom House, 2018

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2024-07-23

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 6:12 ; Galatians 6:9

Author: James Clear


(The following illustration has applicatoin for both "bad" habits and "good" habits alike. As such, this illustration will appear in the database twice, with alternative applications dealing with both types of habits.)

Bad habits can kind of creep up on you. You're fine. You're handling them. Until ... you're not.

Imagine that you have an ice cube sitting on the table in front of you. The room is cold and you can see your breath. It is currently twenty-five degrees. Ever so slowly, the room begins to heat up. Twenty-six degrees. Twenty-seven. Twenty-eight. The ice cube is still sitting on the table in front of you. Twenty-nine degrees. Thirty. Thirty-one. Still, nothing has happened. Then, thirty-two degrees. The ice begins to melt. A one-degree shift, seemingly no different from the temperature increases before it, has unlocked a huge change. [Effects] are often the result of many previous actions, which build up ... unleash[ing] a major change. This pattern shows up everywhere. Cancer spends 80 percent of its life undetectable, then takes over the body in months. Bamboo can barely be seen for the first five years as it builds extensive root systems underground before exploding ninety feet into the air within six weeks.


Bad habits are a lot like those stealthy bamboo shoots. They seem to be nothing to be worried about. They don't seem to be having any significant impact on your life or well being. Until one day, you can't keep them underground any longer. The negative impacts burst through the surface, and bam! Suddnely you have a 50 foot tall bamboo stalk casting shade over your entire existence.

Don't be duped. Those small, bad habits can turn into serious problems quickly. That is why we are cautioned by Scripture to take mastery over our attitudes and action before they take mastery over us.

"All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything" (1 Corinthians 6:12, ESV).

"Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:7-9, ESV).


Are You Hardcore?

Love (Divine) Discipline (Self) Die To Self

Source: “Why you should be 'hardcore' about one thing in life,” by Katherine Martinko, Tree Hugger, December 22, 2017

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2018-01-04

Scripture: Matthew 5:43 ; Romans 5:8

Author: Illustration Exchange


Katherine Martinko, with Tree Hugger, writes:

You've probably heard Nietzsche's famous phrase, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." The underlying message is that difficulties can be important growth experiences; they fortify us for the future, make us more resilient and resourceful. The phrase came to mind when I was reading an article by financial independence (FI) blogger Tanja Hester, a.k.a. Ms. Our Next Life. In it, she asks, "What's your 'selectively hardcore'?"

[W]hat Hester's talking about is the idea that sometimes it's valuable to have one carefully-chosen lifestyle habit that may be viewed as 'hardcore' by the rest of the world, but is meaningful to you.

You might not be hardcore in the other things you do, but having that one quirk teaches you important lessons and offers perspective.

Hester's own "selectively hardcore" is turning down the indoor heat to 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius), cold enough to solidify the dish detergent and to require a hot water bottle in bed at night. Being a finance blogger, she has obviously calculated the savings (approx. $250/mth x 6 cold months = $1,500/year). She says that she and her husband could afford to turn up the heat, but they don't because "it's important to do one thing consistently that tests you."

What are these benefits that warrant shivering in one's home? Hester writes (expanding on each of these points in greater detail in her original article):

- We're stronger than we think.

- Pain is temporary.

- It's always possible to learn new things or embrace new experiences.

- Comfort is a privilege.

- Gratitude is something you can feel.

"What began as a knee-jerk financial reaction has turned into this wise teacher, teaching us about life, ourselves, and not really about money at all. But we wouldn't have learned these lessons -- and certainly not felt them in our bones -- if we hadn't stuck with this stubborn idea consistently every single winter."


If Christianity has a hardcore quirk, it's found in Jesus' words, “Love your enemies.” What could possibly be more "hardcore" than that?  

Yet this command should be profoundly meaningful to every Christian.  After all, isn't this how God responded to us in our rebellion? Despite our sin (acts of rebellion against God), Christ died for us.  Though we rejected Him, He gave everything for us.  And then He calls us to love others with the same love.  A love that reaches out to its enemies.  

Indeed, what begins as a totally counterintuitive act can turn into a wise teacher, teaching us a lot about ourselves.  Like how empty we are when it comes to real love and how much we need God's help if we are to love others the way He loves us. 

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others?  Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48). 

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). 

Are You A Hypermiler?

Evangelism Discipline (Self) Goal Setting

Source: “The story behind a strange-looking car named Dino,” by Michelle Basch | WTOP May 13, 2016

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2016-08-24

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:22 ; Hebrews 12:2

Author: Illustration Exchange


Michelle Basch with WTOP reports: 

Cline is a hypermiler, which means he tries to squeeze as many miles as he can out of every gallon of gas during his commute between Calvert County and the District.

The homemade plastic roof extension in back, called a kammback, looks a bit like a cape and is meant to reduce drag.

Cline, originally from Pennsylvania, also installed smaller-than-normal side mirrors for the same reason. And to reduce the weight of the car, he’s taken out the back seats.

Cline overinflates his tires, although that’s something AAA Mid-Atlantic advises against.

“The factory recommends 33 pounds at each corner, and I do 40,” he said.

Cline says the way you drive makes a difference too. For instance, speeding doesn’t help: “The higher you go, the more gas it takes to keep your vehicle at speed. Certain cars like certain ranges of miles per hour,” Cline said.

“My particular car does really well at 60. If I go 65, I start to reduce my miles per gallon, but if I go 55 I’m actually reducing too.”

If there’s a red light ahead, Cline slows down far in advance. “It actually makes more sense to slow down before you approach the light, so that when you get to the light it turns green and you’re already still rolling,” he said.


When you have a clear goal and you’re committed to it, you become very mindful of all the little things that must be done to reach that goal. That describes the Apostle Paul. He was the original hypermiler. No one else traveled so far, or comported themselves so efficiently, or lived with more purpose—all in an effort to reach his goal of spreading the message of grace.  

What about you? What is your goal? And what sacrifices have you made to reach it?

“To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Where’s The Beef?

Discipline (Self) Drunkenness Holy Spirit (Walking In)

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2015-11-21

Scripture: Ephesians 5:18 ; Galatians 6:1

Author: Illustration Exchange

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Gyllenhaal Trained Like A Boxer

Discipline (Self) Discipleship Witness

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2015-07-24

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:6

Author: Illustration Exchange

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I'll Bet You I Can Overcome My Vice

Goal Setting Accountability Discipline (Self)

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2014-12-29

Scripture: Ecclesiastes 4:9

Author: / Illustration Exchange

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The One Percent Improvement Plan

Success Discipline (Self) Spiritual Growth

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2014-07-08

Scripture: Luke 16:20 ; Luke 19:17

Author: James Clear / Illustration Exchange

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Can Anyone Eat Just One

Temptation God's Faithfulness Discipline (Self)

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2014-04-12

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:13

Author: unknown

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An Eighty Thousand Dollar Slip of the Tongue

Words (Power of) God's Judgment Discipline (Self)

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2014-03-13

Scripture: Matthew 12:36

Author: Illustration Exchange

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Nearly 200,000 Miles Further and $8,000 Richer

Discipline (Self) Seeker Perseverance

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2014-02-09

Author: Illustration Exchange

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