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10 Small Behaviors that Kill Your Soul

June 16, 2016

Some actions might seem small in one sense, but can have a huge impact on our lives.  What we do and do not do chisels our hearts into a certain shape.  Your soul never remains the same day to day.  Your habits are shaping who you are becoming.  Here are 10 behaviors that seem small but have made a murderous impact on my soul.  Maybe they have done the same to you.

(1) Looking down on other people.  Maybe they don’t dress or act like you.  Maybe they drive a terrible car, wear pajamas in public or just act like a fool.  Maybe all logic says that what they are doing is ridiculously ignorant.  It doesn’t matter.  When we look down on someone (or speak down about them) our souls are filled with pride and move further from the heart of Jesus.

(2) Taking a second look.  It might seem like a harmless thing to see someone who you find physically attractive and take a second look, but it’s a dangerous thing.  Sexual sin never remains stagnate.  A second look leads to a third and fourth.  You will always have to up the ante whether through pornography, affairs or some other illicit sexual behavior.  Not to mention the fact that someone made in the image of God is being objectified.  Paul tells us to “flee from sexual sin” and the second look is a great place to start.

(3) Walking by trash.  Someone told me about a pastor who purposefully left trash around the campus when interviewing potential staff to see if they picked it up while touring the campus.  If they didn’t pick up the trash then the interview was over.  OK, so maybe trash isn’t the end all.  But, the question is whether we are willing to do small acts of service.  When we stop doing those things we lose our humility and servant heart.  .

(4)  Skimping on tips.  Pinching pennies on a tip can hurt your soul.  The debate whether to leave $1 more can rage in your mind.  Meanwhile your heart can become more stingy and less generous.  This, of course, isn’t just about tipping.  It’s about generosity of all sorts.  Acts of generosity teach us to love generously and frees us from the fear or greed that imprisons us and makes us miserly.

(5) Withholding expressions of love.  Anytime that we can share love and resist it is more than a missed opportunity for the hearer to receive love.  It is a missed opportunity for your heart to become more loving.  We tend to think that love is a matter of feeling something and then expressing it.  However, the practice of expressing love creates a greater capacity for love.

(6) Worshiping labels.  Let’s be honest.  We pay more for labels.  We pay more because of the status that labels bring rather than the function the object brings.  Now, I’m not rebuking buying quality things and often certain trendy labels are popular because they are high quality.  Nothing wrong with that.  Paying for cheap objects that will quickly deteriorate can be bad stewardship.  With that said, when we get an emotional charge because of the status of a label, our hearts are that much more resistant to being humble and living low.  Low is where you will find Jesus.

(7) Holding a grudge.  This isn’t a small thing at all.  Holding a grudge makes you more imprisoned by your emotions and in greater opposition to the gracious gospel of God.

(8)  Ranting on social media.  What’s the big deal?  After all, we rant because it is just and because we are on the “right” side.  The big deal is that ranting makes you a more bitter and angry person, it makes our world more full of hate, and frankly it makes you look bad.  Research shows that we are not soda bottles who let off some steam and then are calmer.  Angry outbursts lead to higher levels of anger.  Furthermore, ranting is a direct violation of Matthew 18:15 and Ephesians 4:29.

(9)  Applying the sermon to someone else.  Elbows fly during sermons.  I know because I’m a preacher.  I have a birds-eye view.  With each elbow jab someone is saying, “this is for you” and they are essentially saying “and not so much for me.”  When we defer the Word, we no longer have ears to hear and hearts that are poised for transformation.

(10) Isolating from community.  We all need time alone.  But we all need community.  People who are struggling with depression isolate themselves and their isolation further depresses them. I’ve seen minor shifts away from community be the first step toward spiritual disengagement and a shift of heart away from God.

What are your thoughts about this list?  Does one particularly speak to you?  Is there another small act that you would add to the list?  I would love to hear from you.


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