By Blamuel Njururi, Kenya Confidential Editor-in-Chief, Nairobi – July 9, 2017
A farm on a hilly slope is tilled year after year for a long time, and everything appears normal, crops grow and are harvested, then one day the skies open with a torrential downpour and the farm disappears downhill.
Everybody says, “That landslide came from nowhere.” But they’re wrong. The landslide happens suddenly but the process that led to it has gone on for many years. The ground cover attrition, environmental degradation and soil erosion appeared unnoticisible, but it was taking place all along over the years.
Speaking after a landslide in Embu in May 2017, Kinyua Njeru said they had woken up early to pick tea when they found their farms moving and the boundaries shifting.
“We were forced to scamper for safety. This is the work of the devil. I have never seen anything like this in my entire life,” said the 50-year-old resident.
Area Chief Mark Karangi said crops worth about Ksh3 million were destroyed but noted that no one was injured. The two men could not comprehend the phenomenon and forces that had caused the landslide. Njeru called it the work of the devil.
Click on the link below to see the landslide video cli
Similarly, sometimes when a man is arrested by anti-corruption officers and bundles of thousand currency notes running into millions are recovered from his house, it appears to have come “out of the clear blue sky.” It hasn’t. Corruption does not grip one randomly. The evil habit is nurtured over a long time.
Family members and neighbours must have noticed the man’s lifestyle change since he became the County planning department director, a corporation’s chief accountant or a court magistrate among many other public service positions.
Police vetting by the National Police Service Commission has shown traffic officers in almost every rank receive cash through MPesa regularly. Others are caught with cash stuffed in their pockets, in plastic bags or under their cars mats. That means they willingly receive bribes over a period of a time before they are caught.
Bank accounts of corrupt public officers show deposits over a period of time not a sudden cheque deposit from a lottery gambling. Corruption however, is a form of gambling in one’s life, which Pope Francis says is as addictive as drugs. In both corruption and drugs, one happens to be gambling with one’s life and can end up in jail for many years.
Burst sewers remind us of many things: first, something can look good on the outside, when underneath major problems have been going on for years, and a health hazard would happen. Second, our lives are affected by little choices, which have cumulative effects that can result in either moral strength or moral disaster.
A bully does not get aggressive overnight. It begins in primary and secondary schools. Similarly, sinful actions, ethnic hate and malice don’t come out of nowhere—they’re the cumulative product of little moral compromises made over time, which ultimately result in ungodly behavior.
On the other hand, it’s equally true that godly actions are the cumulative product of small, habitual, and Christ-honouring choices for righteousness. It begins in Sunday schools, Church services and Bible studies.
Who Are You Becoming?
Every day we’re becoming someone—the question is, who? Many children end up in careers of their parents and other peers in their neighbourhoods or as teachers, who taught them at various stages of their lives. “You are going to be what you are now becoming.”
Similarly growing up in certain social environments influence what a person becomes very much on the lines of knowing who a person is by the company one keeps. Many children smoke or take alcohol because of their parents. Others join criminal gangs within their neighbourhoods after years of associating with gang members.
Scripture speaks of this process of character development: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Who you become will be the cumulative result of the daily choices you make. “The path of the righteous is like the first light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day” (Proverbs 4:18).
This is why Scripture continually warns us against wrong choices: “Do not enter the path of the wicked and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on” (Proverbs 4:14–15).
You become like what you choose to behold. Behold Christ, you become Christlike. Gaze upon superficiality and immorality, and it’s equally predictable what you’ll become. Indeed, choices have consequences.
Choices for Godliness
A long obedience in the same direction is sustained by the small choices we make each day. Most of us know the difference between eating junk food, or the difference between a daily workout and spending life on a couch.
What I eat and whether I exercise will determine the state of my body. The same is true of our spiritual lives.
Whether I read Scripture and great books, or spend my best hours watching TV cartoons and looking at my phone, will make me into the person I will be several years from now. I should discipline myself today, not for discipline’s sake, but for the purpose of godliness (1 Timothy 4:7, 8).
Psalm 1 says the one who continually meditates on God’s Word “is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither.” Trees do not choose where to place themselves, but we do. We determine what our sources of nourishment will be.
Developing Godly Habits
Following Christ isn’t magic. It requires repeated actions on our part, which develop into habits and life disciplines.
Our spirituality hinges on the development of these little habits, such as Bible reading and memorization and prayer. In putting one foot in front of the other day after day, we become the kind of person who grows in Christlikeness.
Once we develop Christ-honouring habits and experience their rewards, we’ll instinctively turn our minds to what makes us happy in Christ.
A decade from now, would you like to look back at your life, knowing you’ve made consistently good decisions about eating right, exercising regularly, protecting the environment and making prudent economic and political policies? Sure. But there’s a huge gap between wishes and reality. The bridge over the gap is self-control, a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23).
The key to self-control is discipline, which produces a long-term track record of small choices in which we yield to God’s Spirit, resulting in new habits and lifestyles. In fact, Spirit-control and self-control are interrelated in Scripture, because godly self-control is a yielding of self to the Holy Spirit.
It’s true we are creatures of habit—but it’s also true Christ can empower us to form new habits. That happens when one accepts Jesus as one’s saviour.
Your Choices Today
So how can you start to make the right small choices? Ephesians 5:15-16 tells us to “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time.”
Why not redeem two hours of your day that you would have spent on television, newspaper, video games, phone, working overtime, or hobbies? Change your habits.
- Spend one hour meditating on and/or memorizing Scripture.
- Spend the other hour reading a great book.
- Share what you’re learning with your spouse and children, or a friend.
- Listen to Scripture and audio books and praise music while you fold clothes, pull weeds, or drive.
- Say no to talkshows radio or TV sports radio, not because they’re bad but because you have something better to do.
- Fast from television, the Internet, and social media for a week.
Discover how much more time you have. Redeem that time by establishing new habits of cultivating your inner life and learning to abide in Christ. “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
May you call upon Christ’s strength today to make choices that will honour Him, bring you great happiness, and help you become the kind of person you want to be ten years from now!
Growing in knowledge is important, but knowledge without relationship is dangerous. That was one of the big issues Jesus had with the Pharisees. They had biblical knowledge but their heart was far from God. Leaders often run into invisible brain barriers when they attempt change, but little by little they change or drown themselves in hopelessness.