It’s Not Are You Busy, But How Do You Spend Your Time?

It’s Not Are You Busy, But How Do You Spend Your Time

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To say “I’m busy” is like saying I breathed air today. Being a Christian and not being busy is an oxymoron. The un-busy Christian is the problem of the person who does not take the gospel seriously. To use another analogy, we’re like kids in the candy store—opportunity is everywhere. Thus, if a person is not busy or busy the wrong way, you want to follow up to see what the problem is so that you can help them to be busy with a gospel-centered emphasis.

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Universally Assumed

There are many implications from God’s Word that are biblically assumed and universally lived out. Being busy is one of those implications for the believer. Here are a few Scriptures that support the mandate for us to be active Christians. As you reflect on these passages, consider the work involved in spreading God’s fame by being Jesus to those around you.

  • To love God and others is a gospel working command (Matthew 22:36-40).
  • To glorify God in everything you do is an action-shaped worldview (1 Corinthians 10:31).
  • Going and making disciples is a job description full of busy opportunities (Matthew 28:19-20).

The bored, un-busy, inactive, goalless, empty to-do list follower of Jesus is incongruent with a Spirit-illuminated, Spirit-directed, Spirit-empowered Christian framework. Imagine coming back from a day’s work, in response to the Lord’s directive, and saying, “Well, it was kinda boring. I wish we had more to do.” (See Mark 6:31 and Luke 9:10.)

When someone tells me they had a busy week, I typically express silent gratitude for their busyness while curiously wondering what keeps them so engaged. Perhaps I can learn something from my busy friend because I’m a busy guy too.

Move Your Arse

Of course, there are a few un-busy Christians still walking upright in our world today. Maybe it would be more fitting to say they are sitting down. It would serve them well if they had a caring friend to come alongside them by providing a few practical missional pointers for living well in God’s world.

Maybe even a loving “gospel-kick” on the backside would get them going. These folks remind me of Eliza Doolittle at the horse race in My Fair Lady when her horse, Dover, was not moving fast enough. Finally, with all attempts to corral her self-control, she unhitched her tongue and yelled, “Dover, move your blooming arse.” (I love that part.)

Busy does not have an age limit. If you’re a Christian and healthy, I assume that you are busy with the Master’s business (Luke 2:49). A disciple is a learner, and if we’re learning from the Master the right way, we are hard-working, living out a practical worldview daily. A bored Christian teenager is just as much an anomaly as a bored Christian adult.

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No Busy Counselees

It is rare to counsel an un-busy person. The exception would be the lazy individual with no ambition or motivation to better himself. Of course, if you ask him if he was busy, typically, he would say yes, which usually means excessive device time, binge-watching, and other addictive behaviors.

When I ask them how their week went, they will say they were busy. When I ask if they did their homework, most of the time, they stumble and stutter, finally admitting that they did not do what I asked them to do. These people are busy—but busy the wrong way. They don’t understand “busy for Jesus,” and the gospel does not energize their lives.

The busy person’s unwillingness to biblically prioritize his life is why you must ask better questions than, “Were you busy?” If your marriage is dysfunctional and you’re too busy to discipline yourself for a season to repair it, let’s skip the “busy question” and talk about the real issue—what’s happening in your heart.

Your Heart Treasure

Jesus gave us an insightful way of thinking about what is important to us when He used the treasure metaphor. We always connect our hearts to our most important treasures—the things we value over everything else. He saw no discontinuity between who we are—at the heart level—and what we do—at the action, practical level of our lives (Luke 6:45).

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).

“You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” (Matthew 7:16).

By their fruit you shall know them

One way that helps me to assess and address my heart is by thinking through how I spend my day, including my discretionary time—when there are no demands placed on me. Jesus said their works would reveal the kind of person they are. You tell me what you do on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis, and I will let you know what kind of person you are. There is objective data that characterizes the condition of our hearts.

We will find that data in the activities of our lives. None of us are that mysterious. The real question is whether we will be honest about how we spend our time and allow others to scrutinize our pace of life lovingly. What does not help is when the summation of our self-analysis is, “I’m busy.” The typical response to the person who says they are busy is commiseration, which lacks biblical analysis and intervention.

Looking Beyond Busy

Our Christian duty is to love our relationships enough to spur each other on to the right kind of activities (Hebrews 10:24). Neglecting this responsibility will empower stressed-out Christians who do not know how to manage their time, priorities, or values. Typically, these Christians yield to the temptation of an opposing spirit characterized by criticalness and grumbling.

Once they go into complaining mode, they will perpetuate stressed stagnation and jettison the spiritual disciplines. Gospelized Christians can do better. They are grateful for being busy because they know there is coming a day when being active may not be an option (2 Corinthians 4:16). They want to work while it’s day (John 9:4). Every Christian should die with a thousand unfulfilled dreams.

  • Gospelized Christians are always pressing toward the mark of Christ (Philippians 3:14). They experience energy and power from God, and they are motivated by His Spirit to be busy for His glory (Luke 24:49).
  • Gospelized Christians are optimistic. Whatever their hands find to do (Ecclesiastes 9:10), they do it with all their might because they are working with joy-filled hearts that are full of God (Colossians 3:23).
  • Gospelized Christians celebrate busyness (Luke 9:10). They realize who they were and who they are (1 Timothy 1:15-16). They swell with gratitude for what God has done in their lives (Mark 10:45). To be an enemy of God but now an ambassador for the King is the highest honor bestowed on God’s creation (2 Corinthians 5:20).

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Call to Action

  1. Where are your affections sitting? (See Colossians 3:2.)
  2. What does your calendar reveal about your heart treasure? (See Matthew 7:16.)
  3. Do you know how to prioritize what should be the essential things in your life?
  4. Who manages your calendar: the Spirit of God or other people?
  5. Have you learned the value of saying no?
  6. Are you working at finding rest? (See Hebrews 4:11.)
  7. Are you busy with spiritual disciplines?

A Few Optional Responses for When Someone Asks If You’re Busy:

  • I have been gloriously busy for the Lord this week.
  • I have been [buffing floors] for Jesus this week. (Fill in the blank with any mundane job that you do during the week.)
  • I’m so thankful that I have things to do.
  • I can’t get over the fact that the Lord lets me serve Him.
  • My children kept me busy all week; what a privilege to shape them toward God.

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