Wisdom Wednesday: Faithfulness to Good Routines

Don’t You Hate It When
I’m a routine guy. I love routines. Routines, in my mind, are exactly what makes spontaneity pleasant. Now, interestingly, if you love routines, spontaneity can also become a no-go. But that isn’t the topic. The topic is veering off from routine for no good reason.

Most mornings I wake up, do some reading, work on some writing, do my exercises, and get ready for my day.  This morning I woke up and decided I would send an email, first thing. When I checked, I had an email from my boss which he wouldn’t have expected to receive a response to for days. But, many of the questions contained in the email were interesting and pertained to something I’d been thinking about for a few months. So, I spent about an hour writing him back. Basically, what happened is that I missed my routine almost entirely. I am writing my Wisdom Wednesday post where I reflect on the Bible’s wisdom literature, but most of my routine was missed.

A Topical Proverb
I had a different post in mind that maybe I’ll write tonight (broken routine), but I was reminded of this Proverb:

Proverbs 20:9 ESV  Who can say, “I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin”

The easy way to respond to breaking one’s routine is to give up on it for any number of reasons:

  1. Too hard
  2. It got boring
  3. Too easily distracted
  4. I missed it a few times so it wasn’t right for me

But this Proverb reminded me that people do wrong things on a much more important scale (the moral one). We plan for evil, we fail to plan for good, we give up on our good plans, we pursue the good with evil intent, we pursue the good with bad methods, and so-on. So, the Proverb asks all of us, “Who can say, ‘I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin?’ To whom is the question addressed?

  1. The self-righteous and judgmental fellow
  2. The person on a permanent diet from sin who has a cheat day every day of the week
  3. The Christian who still struggles with anger/lust/laziness/idolatry after decades of discipleship
  4. The person who thinks that God owes him/her

Now the wrong response to the Proverb is, “Screw it, who can stop sinning? Not this guy!” Instead the idea is to be gracious with oneself and others and get immediately back on the right path. Our routines (for basic self-discipline or for following Christ) are always going to be human and therefore puny. The human will is so wussy (try moving something with your will but not your body). The earth in its circuit is difficult to move out of routine. A human being can be moved off of the path by an email. But, like a parenting tactic I learned from a friend, “You put the kid back in bed until he’s too tired to fight it and goes to sleep.” This process is similar to routines: “You break it Monday, you do it again Tuesday through Friday” until it becomes easier (or it doesn’t, what’s wrong with hard?). Then you can adapt it to your needs. If you fall of the wagon every other day, keep the routine every other day (better than no days). If the routine break involves falling (or running excitedly) into sin, do the same. Quitting some sinful habit every other day is better than doing it every day.

I suppose it is important to remember this as well:

Ecclesiastes 7:20 “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.”


1 Comment

  1. “4. I missed it a few times so it wasn’t right for me.”

    Man, have I been there more times than I care to count. I make new schedules all the time. My wife says I use it as a cathartic escape. If I’m planning to do stuff, it serves as a surrogate for actually doing the stuff.

    Proper response is – repent of the notion that I can sovereignly bring my plans to pass; then keep following Christ who can sovereignly bring His plans to pass.

    Good post. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog for the last several weeks.

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