“Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me – a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 1:13 NLT
These were perhaps history’s most famous scientific experiments. They were conducted by Ivan Pavlov, who was born on this date in 1849 in central Russia.
His father was a priest, and Pavlov himself attended seminary. But he abandoned a career in ministry in order to devote his life to science. He won significant recognition throughout his academic career with studies eventually focusing on physiology and the nerves.
In 1890, Pavlov was invited to organize the Department of Physiology at the Institute of Experimental Medicine. This became the focus of his work. There he conducted an experiment testing how the reaction of animals could be influenced by unrelated external activities.
In this experiment, Pavlov placed meat powder in a dog’s mouth while specific sounds were made. Eventually, the dog learned to associate the sound with the food. Through this process, Pavlov observed how easily the dog’s behavior could be shaped by the sound alone. In recognition of his revolutionary achievements, he was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1904.
The Bible reminds us how easily habits can form. These can become so ingrained that our responses can be almost automatic, almost controlling our lives. We can react to images we see. Messages from advertising. Smells and sounds. Ideas and concepts. How easily, like Pavlov’s dog, we can find ourselves reacting automatically, with our behavior influenced by these kind of stimuli. Perhaps eating the wrong foods. Thinking the wrong thoughts. Going to questionable places.
These are reasons why we need to develop good habits. Bible reading. Prayer. Fellowship with other believers. As Paul explained to his young friend, Timothy, this is why we need to learn the right patterns. To focus on God’s Word. To surrender our lives to Him. To think His thoughts. To be sensitive to the leading of His Spirit.
PrayerFather, search my life and reveal habits or patterns that are influencing my life. Help me develop the right habits. In Jesus’ name. Amen. Pray for God’s blessing on the evangelism outreaches of Inspiration Ministries.
Extended Reading2 Timothy 1