We all have our own way of doing things. We grow up learning to do things within our family, in our community, and through our peers. It usually establishes who we are and how we go about our life. We often hear people joke about refilling the dishwasher after someone else loads it because we do not like how they have done it, or having guests try to tell us we have not set our kitchen up properly. The way we do things is often deeply ingrained in us and we usually do not like to make changes.
I remember having a friend over who was helping me fold towels. She was folding a towel when I stopped her and showed her how I liked it done. She made fun of me for having a certain way I folded towels and I explained to her I had reasons. But she still thought I was a nut. I was annoyed. I thought she should respect how I did things and be willing to do it my way. But was I so stuck in my ways that I could not overlook hers?
As humans, we often have a hard time stepping out of the habits we have formed. This has always been a problem between God and His people. He has called us to be His children and walk in His ways (1 Kings 3:1-4; Ezekiel 20:18-20), but we do not want to. We do not like to change how we do things. So much so that we will sometimes dig in our heels and stand fast for all the wrong reasons.
Jonah did just that. He dug in and tried refusing what God told him to do (Jonah 1:1-3). Not only did he try to flee from God, but when God finally got him to do the job He wanted him to do, Jonah got angry (Jonah 4:1). Jonah did not care if the people of Nineveh were punished. He was not happy when things did not happen as he perceived they should. He had become set in a way of thinking that hindered him from acting or reacting in a proper manner.
Do we allow these types of things to get in the way of our relationship with God? When God is calling us, do we dig in and say we will not do what He says? Maybe we decide it’s not important to go to church every week, or that tithing takes too much of our money. It could be we do not like the way God does things because it is not what we have grown up knowing or are accustomed to doing. The Ten Commandments are not suggestions, although many treat them as such. One of those commandments is to keep the Sabbath and it means turning away from what we normally do (Exodus 20:8).
I had a friend who always went fishing on Saturdays. When he started attending church, he still went fishing. He felt it was a relaxing thing to do, and reasoned, what was the point of the Sabbath but to relax? The problem was that he was putting what he liked to do in front of what God wanted him to do. Eventually, he stopped fishing on Saturdays, but this is just one example of “our way” getting in the way of God’s way. Others may choose to work or make non-emergency appointments on the Sabbath. They tend to make up reasons for why it is okay. They say things like, “God will understand” or “God knows my needs.” But God does not see things that way. He says to “turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight...” (emphasis added, Isaiah 58:13).
Maybe we are living to the maximum of our financial budget when we first learn about tithing. Then we may make excuses for only partially tithing or not tithing at all. We may tell ourselves we need the $7 coffee we get every morning to make it through the day. That taking a lunch to work instead of eating out is just too big of a hassle. Or maybe we feel we deserve the new car we were planning to buy. We like what we like and we are comfortable in what we are used to. However, do we recognize that when we do not tithe, it is considered robbery to God? Read Malachi 3:8.
These are just a couple of ways we put our ways above the ways of God. If we stop and think about it, there are many more. Even our thoughts can be habitual. We can sometimes get in the habit of having negative thoughts toward situations and people. We are told to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). God knows that the carnal mind struggles to do what is right. Without His Holy Spirit, we fail every time (Romans 8:7). It is why we pray and seek out the things God wants of us. Make a point of setting His ways above ours.