Tough Love: Daily Routine
Topic: Loving Others Scripture: Psalm 119:129–119:135, John 5:1–5:12
What does your Daily Routine look like? Quick note: I know that our normal routines all got thrown out for the better part of a year. But what are some of those constant, consistent aspects of your day that make up whatever routine you’re in? Does your alarm go off the same time every morning? Do you have a go-to breakfast most days? This might be a controversial question so don’t feel like you need to answer out loud: Do you brush your teeth before or after you eat breakfast?
We’re maybe only a half hour into the day and you can already see how there’s something of a routine already present. Pre-COVID, maybe you had a set route to work. Now, that likely just means making sure you have the right lighting for your next video conference. Some of our routines might include exercise, a favorite coffee shop, or caring for a pet. Parents, we know that our routine is dramatically (sometimes tragically) impacted by the quasi-routines of those little human beings we call our children. But we all have a Daily Routine that is made up of several decisions and actions that we tend to repeat day in and day out most of the time.
I’ve got a routine as well. For instance, I start every single day with the same thing. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “He’s a pastor so he’s going to say something like reading the Bible or prayer or something like that.” Sorry to disappoint – but no. How I begin every day does provide me that spark of inspiration and energy and it does give me the ability to see the day with more enthusiasm and optimism, but it’s not a practice - it’s coffee. Every day. Whether I brew it at home or hit up a spot like Dunkin, I have coffee every single day. You might say it is the fuel of my Daily Routine. But as miraculous and marvelous as coffee is, it does not make up my entire routine. I am intentional about many other things… Things that are important to me.
Yes, I do try and spend time in God’s Word each day. I drop Isaac off at school. On Saturdays, I make a big family breakfast. I try to exercise regularly, and I make an effort to read a chapter of a book every day. I tell Caitlin and the boys I love them. I go through my prayer list. I check on my kids every night before I’m the last one to fall asleep in the house. My routine is also filled with perhaps more mundane components as well. Things like checking social media and stuff like that. But it all makes up my Daily Routine. Every decision leads to an action and that action then leads me to my next decision. A pattern forms and that pattern is repeated until it becomes a routine, almost second nature after a while.
But it’s not just brushing our teeth and squeezing in some time to work out that should make up our routine. In fact, there are important, meaningful aspects to our Daily Routine that you really can’t put on a planner or calendar. As Christ-followers, one of those things for us is the love that is fostered by our faith in God. This morning we are finishing up our Tough Love message series on the book of 1 John. We’ve spent the last several weeks talking about love. The love we need, the love we receive, what love looks like, and the Giver of love. Today, I want to finish by talking about the Daily Routine of love that we are each called to. We’re in 1 John 5:1-12.
In this final chapter of John’s writing, we find John forming a sort of progression or cycle, a routine really. Remember, John’s focus throughout the entirety of this letter has been to connect with, encourage, and empower the Christ-followers of his time. Those same encouragements and urgings are for us as well. Throughout his writing, John emphasized over and over again how critical it is that we believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came to this place, became like us, and that Jesus then offered His life to be the perfect and only sacrifice for our sin. In our Savior, human and divine, we find true and everlasting life.
John reiterates that truth again with verse 1 of chapter 5 and then goes on and offers this if/then progression, this routine that we are called to practice. John tells us that everyone who believes in Jesus will love God’s children, will love others. And how do we know if we are loving others? Well, sure, it can be displayed in actions of kindness and friendship, and justice. John goes further and says this is how we know we are loving others: by loving God and by carrying out God’s commands. It might seem a little bit like a loop-di-loop but we really shouldn’t be surprised that to love others means to love God and that to love God means to love others. When Jesus was pressed and asked what the greatest commandment was, He didn’t hesitate: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. And, Jesus continued, love your neighbor as you love yourself. Our Savior gave us other commands, certainly, but it is not a stretch to say that every command given is connected to either loving God or loving others.
John is intentional to remind us that love is not merely vertical and not simply horizontal. It is a cross. Our love for God should intersect with our love for others just as our love for others intersects with our love for God. This dual, mutual activation of love forms a kind of framework, a scaffolding that holds us both in intimacy with our Creator and in compassion with our neighbor. That framework, we pray, becomes the bedrock for our Daily Routine as a follower of Jesus.
We follow a routine in our lives because it helps us accomplish our goals. Personally, professionally, academically…we practice a routine that ensures we are making every possible effort to work toward those things that matter the most to us. John’s routine of loving God by loving others by following God’s commands does much the same thing. But instead of hitting a benchmark at work or a fitness goal, or something like that, John’s routine promises us the opportunity to, as he says in verses 4 and 5, overcome the world. Those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God…which, again, John tells us is true for all who love God and love others…and those who keep God’s commands will be able to overcome the world.
John is revealing to us how it is we can escape the rat race and the labyrinth of this world. How can we break free of the brokenness that is all around us, break free from the cycle of sin and fear and darkness that always seems so constant? We can overcome all that by making the routine, daily decisions to follow God’s commands, to love others, to love our Savior and our God. Just like in everyday life, each of us will have some variation to how we play out and practice this kind of routine. Our next message series is actually going to focus on several practices and postures that can be absolute treasures in terms of helping us live out a Christlike love in our lives. But it’s important that we don’t think it has to be the same for everyone.
I have met and known people who are absolute prayer warriors. Kind women, quiet men, silly teenagers. Didn’t matter, they all had a devotion to prayer, and it was a brilliant display of their love for God. For them, that intimacy and that private space nurtured their devotion. I have had friends and mentors who are astounding biblical scholars. And I don’t mean they had degrees or anything like that. No, what I mean is they had this voracious hunger for the truth and wonder of God that is found within Scripture. Every day, any occasion they could find, they would explore the well-worn pages of their Bible and sink into the promises and presence of God in their study and devotion.
This goes the same for loving others too, because again, it’s all connected. I’m sure all of us can think of someone who always seems concerned with and connected to the needs of others. Someone who always wants to help or maybe someone who is always there to listen. Generous people who give freely of what they have. Time, money, presence…it doesn’t matter. I’ve known people who care so much for others that they work to reform or even create systems that help others on a scale so much larger than one single person. And I’ve known people who know that, sometimes, the most tender way to love another is by dropping off some homemade cookies.
All of these habits, practices, and gifts make up this routine that I’m talking about, that John is talking about. A Daily Routine of love. Perfect love that comes from God. And it is a routine that each and every one of us can practice in our lives. With small changes at first and maybe a few leaps of faith along the way. What will this look like for you? Remember, we practice a routine that ensures we are making every possible effort to work toward those things that matter the most to us. Whether that is finishing a degree or the time we make for our kids or the effort we make at work. But our faith in Christ and the love of God we claim to possess must also be a part of our routine. Whether that means starting a new devotional, carving out a new collection of moments for prayer each day, calling a local organization like Home Sweet Home to volunteer, or even just baking some banana bread for our neighbor two doors down. Each and every one of us can find some way to live out our belief in Christ, to love our God, to love others, and to make that a part of our Daily Routine.