Gretchen Rubin, author of the bestselling Happiness Project, is writing a new book about habits called Before and After. In her latest blog post on the subject, she writes about how a clean slate can provoke, promote, and sustain major habit change. As she puts it: 

The fresh start, the do-over, or the new year is a crucial time, because it offers tremendous opportunity for forming new habits -

Some of the slate-cleaning events she mentions are:

  • A change in personal relationships: marriage, divorce, a new baby, a new puppy, a break-up, a new friend, a death.
  • A change in surroundings: a new apartment, a new city, even rearranged furniture.
  • Major changes: a new job, a new school, a new doctor.
  • Minor changes: taking a different route to work, or watching TV in a different room.

Well, if such clean slate/fresh start events can produce new and better habits, how much more the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ and being adopted into the family of God? What cleaner slate, what fresher start could possibly be imagined! What a do-over! What a change and what a power to change!

Last summer I was playing soccer at our church camp. My team was losing 4-0 and also losing heart. When the supper bell rang, somebody on the other side shouted out, “Right, next goal’s the winner!” Well, you should have seen the energy course through my team again. Given a clean sheet to start over, hope was renewed, tiredness disappeared, heads were up and legs were pumping again.

That’s why we need daily cleansing of our consciences with Christ’s blood. It gives us a fresh start, a clean sheet, re-energizing and re-motivating us to serve again. You don’t guilt someone into change; you grace them into it.