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Live Life a Little More Sloppy

May 1, 2013


Pragmatism is killing us.  My wife has been telling me this throughout our marriage. She hasn’t used those particular words.  Instead it’s more like, “You’re all about the destination not the journey.”  That’s almost as good a definition for pragmatism as “taking the most logical, efficient path to logical, intelligent results.”

That’s men in a nutshell.  Unfortunately, it’s our society as well, our legislative principles, our business practices, and more and more our fun.

In law it’s legislating everything to death, layering law after law to account for every single possibility; it’s taking away judicial decision-making.  For example, should we have a law against texting while driving?  People die from doing it.  Let’s make a law!  But as abominable a practice as it is, many people do NOT die or have accidents.  If they text and drive erratically, an officer can charge them with Reckless Driving and allow the judge to figure out degree and sentencing.  If there’s a law about texting and driving, am I okay if knit and drive? Under reckless driving, no; but under intensive legislation, my defense is that there’s no law against it.

Further, keeping abortion legal despite the clear invocation that it is murder makes pragmatic sense. Outlaw it and backyard abortions will kill mothers as well as babies.  The problem with pragmatic lawmaking is that Slavery would still be legal, because abolition would cost too many lives (re: the Civil War).  Pragmatism is not all that.

In business, pragmatism says make processes so efficient that no dollar is left on the floor.  Capture every possible profit potential created by the business.  The Biblical concept of “gleaning” goes out the window.  Boaz was not a pragmatist.  He told his team not to harvest every stalk that lay on the ground, but to leave some behind for the poor who would follow the team.  That wasn’t just to bag Ruth, it was a principle that can be summed up as “work a little sloppy and leave some dollars on the floor for others in need.”  It also enabled the poor to work for their supper, another Biblical principle that has fallen by the way side.  Do companies really need to expand horizontally and vertically?  Do they need to wipe out competition utterly?  The world might be a better place if they didn’t.

In my life, it’s earning every penny I can; if tomorrow is a work day, don’t go out tonight.  If that ministry date interferes with earnings, don’t do it.  Dave Ramsey would say live on rice and beans and beans and rice until you’re financially free.  Wonderfully pragmatic, but sometimes splurging is necessary for family memories. And sometimes splurging is unnecessary and wisdom should win out.

There’s that word: Wisdom.  We’ve replaced wisdom with pragmatism.  Wisdom says sometimes be foolish for Christ; pragmatism says Christ who?

Unfortunately, pragmatism works.  It doesn’t work as well as we think, though.  This gray life of pragmatism only appears to be “good.”  But Jesus says He’ll give us life and life abundantly.  The abundant life He speaks of is not wealth (though it may include that), but the joy of serving others, of putting ourselves out there not just for our results but to see God work!  Pragmatism looks out for me.

After 49 years of living pragmatically, living kind of sloppy  in the choices I make (not referring to my yard, neighbors, that’s already sloppy), leaving some gleanings for others (whatever that looks like), living as a fool for Christ, again, that should be second-nature but it isn’t… is going to take some work.  Some time.

Join me?


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