How many times have I said “I don’t have enough time”? I deliberately keep myself busy, because I hate to sit idle. This quote from Professor Bruce Hindmarsh struck me as I thought about being busy;
Busyness is moral laziness [because it is often a statement of our self-importance and our excuse to be inattentive to people]. . . . But God has given us just enough time to do what we need to do moment by moment to respond to him. And his grace is there; it is eternally present. Every moment is a sacrament where time touches eternity and there is exactly enough time to do what God has called us to do.
It got me thinking about why I’m so busy, is it out of a sense of self-importance? Or perhaps an unconscious reason to be inattentive to others? I had to stop to think about what this is saying and my own experiences.
Think back to the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10. Jesus came to a village and was welcomed into the home of Martha and her sister Mary. Having someone like Jesus in your home was a big deal and Martha fell compelled to be busy preparing the meal she was preparing for everyone. Mary on the other hand sat at the feet of Jesus listening to his teaching. Martha was indignant and asked Jesus to tell Mary to come help Martha as it wasn’t fair that she was doing all the work herself. Jesus replied with something very important;
“My dear Martha, you are so upset over all these details! There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it—and I won’t take it away from her.” – Luke 10:41-42
Martha may have been felt the need to please everyone by preparing a large meal or she may have been using her busyness to show Jesus how essential she was. Do I keep busy to let everyone know how “needed” I am?
Or do I use busyness to avoid making harder, more costly choices? Do we use our busyness to mask our underlying laziness? Are we the “Lazy Busy” as Tony Reinke states in his article?
The most common species of slothfulness is “lazy busy” — a full schedule endured in a spiritual haze, begrudging interruptions, resenting needy people, driven by a craving for the next comfort.
Busyness can be an escape. An overflowing schedule can become a shield protecting us from the unpredictable, inconvenient, time-consuming needs of other people. Are we willing to dismiss the needs of those that need help, because we are “too busy”?
God always provides exactly enough time to do He has called us to do. He has given us the time, but are we good stewards of that time? Remember the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25;
For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ – Matthew 25:14-30
God has given us the time to do what he has called us. Do we invest that time, use it in the moment he has given it to us and reap the return? Or do we squander that time by being to busy to invest it in God’s kingdom? If God fills our plate full of things to do for his sake, we need to remain faithful to our callings even if that means we need to refrain from doing other things. But God always gives us enough time.
He presents us with opportunities every day if we only take the time to notice them and act on them. Can we be attentive to the needs of others even if it means we take time away from our “busy” schedules? Can we act upon those that need help, even if it causes us discomfort. That’s a challenge I know won’t be easy to faithfully carry out. It is going to force me to slow down and pay attention. To not be so busy or use my busyness as an excuse. Not an easy challenge to undertake.