Foundation #9 - Replace the bad with the good
My family and I were reading in Luke last night and we came across this passage in Luke 11. In verses 24-26 Jesus talks about an evil spirit leaving a man, the man getting cleaned up and in order and the spirit coming back to reside there again - only this time with 7 of his evil friends. Jesus makes the closing comment: the final condition of that man is worse than the first.
This is a foundational truism: you can't just take away the bad and "clean" yourself up. You have to replace the "bad" with the "good". If the house is left unoccupied, the "bad" will come back with a few of his bad friends and really make a mess (sounds like a bad high school party flick doesn't it).
What does this look like in practice? We see this all the time. After school programs that engage kids in sports or learning activities are started to "keep kids off the street". The program is attempting to fill idle time (which, as the proverb says idle hands are the devil's workshop) with positive activities for the mind and body. The hymn I sang when I was younger - Count Your Blessings - was a statement of looking at the good things that God has given you instead of focusing on the seemingly negative circumstances.
As you work on growing yourself, remember this principle. You cannot tell yourself that you are going to stop a certain negative behavior (watching too much TV, eating too much, etc.) without filling it with something good (serving somewhere, reading the scriptures, taking a class, etc.).
As you train your children (for those of you that have them), when you tell them to "stop doing that", you must also pointing them toward a positive behavior pattern: "let's go do _______" or "what if you were to do _________ instead". Notice that this will take some thinking and creativity on your part, as well as some of your time!!!
Principles so far:
#1 You reap what you sow
#2 God is good all the time
#3 Fruit of the Spirit is the yardstick
#4 Forgiveness is a key to unlocking spiritual growth
#5 Love God, love people
#6 The heart is revealed by what someone says or does
#7 Worrying accomplishes nothing
#8 Trials are an essential part of life