Rituals, Habits, And Aimless Living

January 13, 2012
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Romans 4:10 – But how did this happen? Was he counted as righteous only after he was circumcised, or was it before he was circumcised? Clearly, God accepted Abraham before he was circumcised! (NLT)

I am a creature of habit — or ritual, if you prefer. While some habits are detrimental, I still maintain that, on average, many are beneficial. Like most people, I have a daily routine. I get up around the same time and do the identical stuff: eat breakfast, shave, take a shower, brush my teeth, dress, go to work, and drink coffee. At day's end, I go to bed so that I can get up and repeat the process.

Occasionally, my routine is interrupted by events that I can't control: an early morning surgery, a phone call in the middle of the night with news of a tragedy, or an early morning meeting. When this happens, I must reorient my schedule. What I usually do in the morning has to be transferred to another slot. Like most people, I prefer for my schedule to maintain a semblance of normalcy, but I've learned that there are always interruptions.

The Jews of the Old Testament had a habit that God interrupted: circumcision. Originally, it signified that they were God's covenant people. The difficulty arose when they began trusting in the ritual for God's acceptance. Using Abraham as an example, Paul reminds them that faith was the avenue.

It's easy for habits and rituals to result in aimless living. While they are initially established with good intent, the reason for them gets lost in the repetitive motion. I attend church because my parents taught me to. I pray because my Sunday School teacher told me that I should. I give regularly because someone told me that I couldn't outgive God. What I'm tempted to forget is the reason that I perform these and other ritualistic practices. In His gentle way, God reminds me that habits are only beneficial when they train my focus on Him and His goals for my life, and when they enable me to love my neighbour as myself.

Prayer: Father, help us to consider the worth of our habits. Show us if there are some that we need to kick. Amen.


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About the author:

Martin Wiles <mandmwiles@gmail.com>
Greenwood, South Carolina, USA

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