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Gradual

A follow up on last week's post...I think the idea of change happening slow, sometimes for the worse and without us even knowing it, is so prevalent. But why does it happen this way? How come we are just living our lives, caught up in the day to day, and then we wake up to find ourselves forty pounds heavier? Or maybe it isn't even a health thing, but rather a relational or emotional rut has formed without us knowing it.

I used to work in the multi-family housing industry, and so I often showed apartments to folks getting a divorce. You wouldn't believe the things these men and women said about their soon-to-be ex-spouses (sometimes in front of their children), and I often wanted to ask them what happened in the course of the last ten-to-twenty years that would cause so much disdain. Think about it: they go from devoting their lives to each other in love to spitefully spouting words I won't use out loud to a total stranger. I have to conclude that this is a gradual slope, which makes it that much more important to guard against such a thing.
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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. (Hebrews 12:1)
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One way that sin "easily entangles" is that we don't even realize it is happening! This gradual slope of loss is a tricky tactic of our enemy, and so requires us to be alert and vigilant in our day-to-day lives. This is difficult of course, with routine dominating most of our activities. But think of the consequences if we do not take a self-evaluation from time to time, to see how we are doing spiritually, relationally, emotionally and physically.

Note also the use of "perseverance" in that verse above. This is a lifelong practice that requires a steadfast endurance that itself takes practice. But where does such a thing as perseverance come from except repeated failure, and God's grace?
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Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)
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So I encourage you to take daily, weekly or maybe monthly evaluations of your life. Ask God to show you any habits you may be caught in that are detrimental. Ask your trusted friends the same questions. Bring it all before God and make any changes you can. Don't let the slippery slope of gradual loss bring you to a valley you never wanted to enter, when tiny changes you can make now could be much easier than climbing out after you've fallen.

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