If you are anything like me, the culture of busyness has a siren-like call on your soul.
To others, that statement may seem like ridiculous hyperbole. But for those of us who have fallen victim to the addictive qualities of this culture, we succumb to an almost insatiable desire to busy ourselves with activities, to never find ourselves missing that one event or failing to spend time with that one person or group of people.
While many pundits point to the rise of technology as a culprit for the rise in busyness, perhaps the tech companies merely supplied the tools we wanted to feed our pre-existing desires.
So the tough question to answer is this: Why do we want to be so busy?
In a secular sense, some people, like me, use busyness as an escape.
I tried to fill my life with everything under the sun so that I wouldn’t have to face my ultimate calling—the complete submission of my life to God. The noise I created with the busyness of my life helped to muffle the knocking of God’s hand on the door of my soul. I knew that if I opened that door, I would have to face God and address my sinful ways. I didn’t want to do either.
When we willingly submit our lives to the culture of busyness in search of our identity instead of turning to God for refuge and fulfillment, it is then that busyness becomes a sin issue.
Look at three areas of your life and check for the sin of busyness and submission to God.
1. At Work
Some people use busyness to pursue professional success. While this pursuit isn’t inherently sinful, when the amount of time pursuing professional goals supersedes the pursuit of God, those goals become the idols of our lives, the things we worship with our time. While Colossians 3:23 tells us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,” we must be careful not to worship our work instead of the One who allows us to work. Submitting our professional goals to God starts with the idea that all work should be worship to our God.
2. In Ministry
In the Church world, some well-meaning Christ followers may use busyness in an attempt to earn God’s favor or to impress the leadership of the church.
Jesus shared a parable in Luke 8:9-14 about a Pharisee and a tax collector who were both praying to God. The Pharisee, known for his holy living and goodness, prays to thank God that he is not like other sinful men, citing his actions as support for his point. The tax collector, beating his chest as a sign of sorrow over his sin, prays, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (verse 13) Jesus ends the parable by saying that the more humble of the two men, the tax collector, went home justified.
The revelation of this parable is that God’s grace, not our works, justifies us. Because the tax collector humbled himself before the Lord and prayed for God’s mercy, he was justified in the eyes of God. The difference between the two men is their hearts. In Matthew 12:34b, Jesus said, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” The prayers of the two men in the parable revealed their submission, or lack thereof, to God.
If you are wondering whether your busyness serving in ministry has become a sin issue in your life, take a close look at when you serve, where you serve, who you serve and how you talk about your service. Whatever those questions reveal to you, remember that all service should glorify God, not ourselves. Like the tax collector, if our hearts are humble before the Lord and we submit our time of service to Him, He will use it according to His will.
So how then do we submit our lives completely to God?
3. In Relationship With God
Submission to God is not a one-time decision. It may start with a prayer to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, but it is so much more than that.
Many people want the Savior aspect of the relationship with Jesus but have much more difficulty with the Lord portion.
James 4:7 instructs, “Submit yourselves therefore to God.” The word submission in the New Testament is translated from the Greek word hupotasso, hupo meaning under and tasso meaning to arrange. Fully translated, it means to align yourself under the authority of another.
If we were to conduct a time utilization inventory of a two-week span of your life, under whose authority would we find you?
Jesus said in John 14:23-24, “…if anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.” Clearly, Christ followers should strive to make daily decisions that reveal a desire to become more like Him through their obedience. While we know that our sinful nature will cause us to fall short of the goal of perfect obedience, we are charged by Jesus to reveal our love for God by aligning ourselves under His authority.
My conviction of this truth motivated me to begin my life anew by praying for the Holy Spirit to increase my wisdom and discipline surrounding my usage of time on this earth. Those prayers continue daily.
If you share my conviction and desire to submit your time to God—to align your will with His—you might begin with this prayer: “Lord God, my heart’s desire is to show my love for You by submitting my life, the hours and minutes with which You’ve blessed me, to know You more, to glorify You with my time, and to love and serve others more. Allow the Holy Spirit to fill me with the wisdom to see where I need to alter my patterns of behavior and empower me with the discipline to change. In the Holy name of Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, Amen.”
The next step in the process will be to conduct a time-investment self-evaluation, which will be described in my next article, “Evaluating Your Utilization of Time.” I will be praying in the days ahead that many of you will choose to join me on the journey of saying no to the culture of busyness and yes to submitting your time to God.
Visit “Do You Steward Your Time” to read the first article in this series.