Today we continue our journey through You Are What You Love by James K. A. Smith. In reading through Proverbs 20 today I pulled out these verses that I think relate to today’s chapter in the book.
The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out. (Proverbs 20:5 NIV)
Even small children are known by their actions, so is their conduct really pure and upright? (Proverbs 20:11 NIV)
What do you want? If you had the opportunity, would you be willing to have someone, or something, reveal to you what is deep within your heart? If you could walk through a door and enter a room where your deepest desire would be met, would you walk through the door? Smith’s contention is that most of us would not because we know that what we think we want is not what we really want.
In the previous chapter Smith contended that our actions shape us. Repeated actions, or habits, tell us where we’re headed. If we develop good habits the result is good character or virtue. If we develop or submit to bad habits the result is bad character or vice.
The big idea in this chapter is that we are not conscious enough of the habits that are heading us in a direction we probably don’t want to go. Nothing is neutral. Whether or not we’re able to consciously define where an experience is directing us doesn’t change the fact that we are being directed. Smith uses a teenager going shopping at the mall as an example. He describes the mall as a religious site, and it is. The design of the mall, both its physical appearance and the vast array of stuff available, tell me that I’m broken and that I can be fixed by shopping. Since teenagers go to the mall to be with other teenagers it appears that the mall is a place of community when what is really going on is everyone checking out everyone else to see who is the least broken. The place and experience promote competition and not community. To be redeemed and less broken I buy things I’m convinced I must have to compete. Consumption becomes redemptive. Finally, I’m taught to ignore where things come from. I’m neither grateful for the workers who made the things I purchase or the God who provided me with the means.
This is just one example. Identifying the long-term impact of the things we experience and do is not difficult, it just makes us uncomfortable and we avoid the evaluation process. Take some time and think through yesterday. What are the habits you practiced that are shaping you to become more like Jesus, love God, and spend eternity with Him? Remember, anything that isn’t accomplishing this is moving you toward a different destination. Is this really what you want?
But once you realize that we are not just thinking things but creatures of habit, you’ll then realize that temptation isn’t just about bad ideas or wrong decisions; it’s often a factor of de-formation and wrongly ordered habits. In other words, our sins aren’t just discrete, wrong actions and bad decision; they reflect vices. And overcoming them requires more than knowledge; it requires rehabituation, a re-formation of our loves. – James K. A. Smith in You Are What You Love
For my grandchildren:
Develop habits that increase your love for God.