Busy, Busy, Busy

As I’m thinking back over my crazy week, looking forward to my jam-packed weekend, and watching my husband plow through a project that will keep him up for yet another late night, I wonder. Is it good that we’re so busy? Is it bad? Does God care one way or another?

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Photo by Sean MacEntee on Flickr

I love that the Bible applies to such real-world, every day questions. Who doesn’t feel at some point like there just aren’t enough hours in the day? Who doesn’t sometimes wonder if they’re using their time well or just kind of squandering it? I love that we have a God who gets that.

So what does He say about it?

Well, we know that God does not want us to be lazy. Proverbs 18:9 says, “Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.” Pretty harsh. Ecclesiastes says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” and Proverbs again (which has innumerable verses against laziness) tells us we should be like ants in that they are always busy about the work they need to get done. Being busy about necessary work is obviously valued by God, and it is even a way we can bring glory to Him as we stand out as hard workers to others. One point for busyness!

We also know that God gives us good things in life, including fun activities. In creation, God blessed us with things like laughter and the ability to have fun. Animals don’t sit around telling each other jokes and they don’t have hobbies. That’s a unique gift that God has given us. James 1:17 says straight out that, “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” Matthew 7 describes our own human desire to give our children good gifts and then says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” God wants us to have some enjoyment of life. Things like hobbies or hanging out with friends are blessings that He designed for us to enjoy. Point two for busyness!

On the other hand, God values rest. In Genesis, after God had created the world in 6 days, the Bible says, “and on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.” God modeled rest for us, something He in no way needed, from the very beginning of creation. When Jesus walked on the Earth, we often find Him sleeping because He needed time to rejuvenate His body. God chose not to design us to just keep going forever and ever. We need to rest! Point one for… anti-busyness? Busynesslessness?

Finally, and absolutely most importantly, God cares about our priorities. How do the things you are filling your time with affect your priorities? What do they show your priorities to be? Looking again at the life of Jesus, we see that He often took time to get away from people and to just spend time with the Father (Matthew 14:23, Luke 6:12, Mark 1:35). If we had walked on Earth beside Him, we maybe would have wondered why He wasn’t using the little time He had here to heal people or better yet, to be preaching to people. But He knew the importance of a right relationship with the Father, and He knew that came before anything else. How much more do we need to be seeking after God with our time! Are the things you’re busy with keeping you from spending time earnestly praying or deeply searching God’s Word? Does it keep you from being able to serve the Lord in the capacities you feel He is calling you to? If the answer is even “maybe a little”, it’s time to figure out what needs to change on a priority list that’s making you too busy.

So we ended the poll with two points for and two points against busyness. What does that mean? Like I said, I really think that last idea says it all. We need to be busy doing work, we are certainly allowed to be busy in fun (within limits), we need to remember to rest, but above all, we need to be sure that God is first. Busyness has a way of creeping into our lives and keeping our minds in a constant state of, “What do I need to be doing next?” Where then goes the time of “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)? Where is the trust from “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:35)? And why don’t we remember that, “For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18)?

A phrase I have been saying to myself lately is that I need to “Keep the first things, the first things.” If spending quality time with the Lord is being pushed out of my life, I know I need to stop and reevaluate my busyness. We have to ask ourselves which is more important: a strong relationship with God and time dedicated to serving Him or whatever it is we’re doing instead.

“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!” -Psalm 39:4

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