Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (Colossians 3:12–16)

These words from Paul create a picture of discipleship that bases spiritual formation (a.k.a. discipleship) more on the habits and virtues of the heart than on the amount of information crammed into the brain. However, this is no excuse for a lazy mind, but rather a reminder that Jesus said all thoughts, words, and actions flow from what’s been cultivated in human hearts (Luke 6:45; Mark 7:21). Proverbs 4:23 emphasizes this point: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” So Jesus, drawing from biblical wisdom, considers the heart to be the command-center for everything we are, loving and not-so-loving, good and not-so-good.

From Jesus’ viewpoint, our hearts need vigilant monitoring and ongoing recalibrating. If you will, they need to be “re-habituated” to love God. How can our hearts become “re-habituated” to love God? The answer is worship.

Again, Paul prioritizes this in his letter to the Colossians when he urges them (and us) to practice four habits of the heart. First, dress with Christ’s love; second, govern with Christ’s peace; third, nourish with Christ’s Word; and fourth, indulge in thanksgiving. As we daily practice these habits, they help “re-habituate” our hearts toward God, and as our hearts are “re-habituated toward God,” they become a dwelling place for him. And we discover that Christian living becomes a little more normal.

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