Need a break?
Many of us feel like we do. Ask anybody how they are and the likelihood is that their answer will include the word ‘busy’. On Sunday morning this week we thought about the area of Sabbath and rest. It is a nuanced topic, but as we're all pushed for time, I thought I would boil it down to: 5 bad reasons to be busy; 6 good ways to be busy; and 2 good books to read on busyness
5 Bad reasons to be busy
1. To justify myself. It is easy to measure ourselves by our achievements. The busier we are at work, the more they must need me, so the more important I am. The busier I am at church the more God must be pleased to have me on board. But we are justified by faith. Jesus said “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Our worth comes from Him, not from our output. See also: Hebrews 10:11-12, Psalm 130:6
2. To win the approval of others. We love to meet the expectations of others. We hate to let people down. But we are to fear God not man. The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe Proverbs 29:25. See also: Isaiah 33:6, Psalm 18
3. To keep things under control. We feel that if we don’t stay on top of things, things will get on top of us. But God is sovereign. Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Luke 12:25. See also: Psalm 18
4. To earn enough money to live well. We probably wouldn’t put it that bluntly, but it is easy to convince ourselves that we cannot afford for our income to drop. But money does not lead to happiness. One's life does not consist in the abundance of one's possessions. Luke 12:15. See also: Psalm 73:23-26
5. To make the most of life. We don’t want to miss out on the latest opportunity. But we have a greater hope to come. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:24-25. See also: Rev 21:4, Psalm 90
The reality is that often we will be busy in a way which we cannot avoid. So . . .
6 Good ways to be busy
1. Do all for God’s glory. Seek His glory, not our own, in everything. This applies even in mundane work. Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God 1 Corinthians 10:31. See also Ephesians 5:6.
2. Measure success not by what we do, but by how we do it. How do we define a good week? It is interesting that at the end of his life Paul might have looked back on all the churches he had founded and places he had been (a lot of stamps in the passport) but he says simply: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7.
3. Trust God. We cannot do everything. We will let people down and leave things on the to-do-list undone, but God is sovereign over that. Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7.
4. Do not neglect an area of life. Is there an area of my life that I am neglecting? Who is paying the cost of my busyness? In whose time am I taking my ‘me’ time? Is it always the same area that takes the hit?
5. Do not idolise an area of life. Am I putting excessive time and energy into one area of life? (maybe work? maybe rest?) Do I always drop everything for one person or activity?
6. Stay close to Jesus. As Jesus said to Martha “you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42.
These points deal with a complex subject in a pretty simplified way, so why not catch up on the sermon online or read one of the books below . . .
2 helpful books:
1. Time for everything, Matt Fuller. Good for thinking about good ways to manage our time.
2. The busy Christian’s guide to busyness, Tim Chester. Good for thinking about the idols that may lay behind our busyness.