Depending upon your resources, common wisdom says that it takes between six and ten weeks to form a habit. For those whose New Year’s resolutions have led them to try to form some better habits, you’re hitting that “sweet spot,” which means your efforts are probably swinging wildly between success and failure. Those who are trying to get more exercise are finding it easier to get outside these days, but that’s unusual for this time of year; normally we’re starting to feel that edginess that comes with mid-winter “cabin fever.” This reminds me of a quote from that famous writer, Author Unknown: “The only exercise some people get is jumping to conclusions, running down their friends, side-stepping responsibility, and pushing their luck!”

It’s not just the winter blahs that make us a little cranky; sometimes we just get on each other’s nerves. It’s understandable; you know what people are like, right? It’s especially true about families, even church families. Unfortunately, what could be simple human nature all too easily becomes a bad habit of complaining about others. James 5:9 says: “Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged.” There are many ways that we interact with each other that might cause our personalities, our backgrounds, or our skills and knowledge to come in conflict with each other, but God’s Word tells us that we must not let those disagreements turn into grumbling or complaining about each other.

Rather, we should take Paul’s advice from 1 Thessalonians 5:11: “Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” What I like most about this statement is that Paul is encouraging his readers to be encouraging. In addition to that, he points out that his readers already have a habit of encouraging and building each other up. That’s what the church should be like, brothers and sisters encouraging each other as God continues to transform us and as we work together to share the Good News of salvation and transformation through Jesus. Keep up the good work; keep building those good habits; and keep on encouraging each other as we all continue to grow in our faith and knowledge of Jesus.