Too Busy for Jesus, Part 2

busy (1)Jesus First

Jesus clearly states what our priorities as Christians should look like in Matthew 6:31-33:

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

God knows we need to get things done, need to make money, and need to take care of our commitments.  However, seeking His kingdom, not ours, is what He requires to be “first.”  This is what sets us apart from the world.  While the world maximizes their time on the “cares of life,” we are to focus on the eternal priority of God’s kingdom.  His kingdom is not made up of things or possessions, but on an eternal relationship with Jesus.

Where our love lies is found in what we seek the most.  When we “seek first” our productivity and financial increase above God’s kingdom, it is proof that we love these things greater than we love Jesus.  Our “treasure” is forever connected to our heart . .  . and where heart is, there will be our love.

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

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. (Mark 12:30)

Seeking Jesus first – making Him the highest priority – is an indication of our love for Him.  In fact, we are commanded to love Him with all we are, not just some of it.  However, when our time and physical efforts are solely focused on our agenda and our needs, the proof of our love is weak.  We may say that we love Jesus, but consistently, our actions speak louder than words.

Prioritize Like Jesus

If there was anyone who could make the excuse by saying “I’m too busy,” it was Jesus.  People were constantly drawing on His time and attention.  The religious leaders often sought for His death.  Even His disciples were needy.  But despite all His needs, He was the perfect example of godly prioritization.  He wouldn’t ask us to do something He wasn’t willing to do or hadn’t done Himself.  We will never find an example of Him worrying about tomorrow, or seeking His agenda first.  He was consistently getting away from the crowds to spend time with the Father, and He obeyed God in every area (John 5:19, John 6:38).

As His disciples, we are to do the same:

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps . . . (Peter 2:21)

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. (Ephesians 5: 1-2)

So practically, how would we live a life where Jesus is first?  How would we prioritize so we’re never too busy for Him? Here are a few areas we can daily subject to Jesus for His review:

Commit to Jesus – Every day we should be saying, “Not My will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).  God is looking for a life of surrender.  He is, after all, our Lord.  His commitment to our salvation meant we have eternal life.  This should be enough for us to completely give all of ourselves – including our work and schedules – to Him.

Consult Jesus – Jesus should always have a say in every decision we make.  We are to “acknowledge Him” so He can make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).  This includes the use of our time and money, as well as the relationships we make and the towns we live in.  Nothing is left untouched by His directive.

Live for Jesus – We can commit and consult all day, but unless we act on what He tells us, our words are meaningless.  Our lives should reflect His Word and nature living on the inside of us.  Our daily walk should be marked with holiness, obedience, and selfless living for Him and no one else.

Trust Jesus – We are not only called to love Him with all our heart, but also to trust Him with all our heart.  When we trust Him, we are confident that when He tells us to give up a habit, adjust our schedule, or serve the Body of Christ, He will do what He promised. We know He is doing it for our good as well as His, and will make sure all our need are met.  We can rest assured that it will be “more than we could ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20)!

Faithful Servant

Busyness, and other misplaced priorities, can be a great weight in our lives.  In fact, it can even be a sin if it excludes Jesus as Lord, or goes against something God has specifically told us to do.  The point of losing the “weight” of busyness is so we can run free and easy in our relationship with God and His call on our lives.  It enables us to hear His voice when He gives us guidance and encouragement.  It keeps us ready to get up and go the moment He tells us to.  It keeps our focus on what it most important – Jesus, the Author and the Finisher of our faith.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

God is looking for those who will be faithful, or trustworthy.  Our lives are not just about us trusting Him, but also Him trusting us.  Will we honor His commitment to us by making Him number one in our lives?  Will we put aside our own plans to join His?  Will we give our time, money, possessions, and skills to His use? If we do, it is proof that He has our hearts. He then knows that possessions, busy schedules, and the lure of money does not possess us.  He now possesses our hearts.

“Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” Matthew 25:23

The result of that faithfulness is being trusted with more – but more of what He says is important!  It won’t be a burden, for His “yoke is easy and His burden is light” (Matthew 1:30).  Spending time with Him and putting Him first is far easier and less stressful than slaving away in the kitchen!

(If you want to catch up and read part 2, go the the September archives at the bottom of this page!)

 

Too Busy for Jesus, Part 1

busy (1)

Our world addicted to busy.  We live constantly on the go, flying here and flying there to accomplish a self-imposed to-do list. In the process, unfortunately, we put attending sports games over church attendance.  We place vacation spending above tithing.  We spend our time listening to the news rather than reading our Bibles.  We give more attention to our latest hobby than serving in our church and community.  We forego our prayer time to spend more time at the office.  Even house work and parenting (my personal challenge!) can take the place of spending time with Jesus.

While “doing things” and “making money” can all produce good results, when put in the wrong order of life’s priorities, it can lead to putting Jesus second . . . or very last.   This grieves the heart of God as He has spent all His time and energy on us.

Work First

One of the most well-known examples of “too busy” is the story of Mary and Martha found in Luke 10:38-42:

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.  But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Hospitality is a godly character trait.  We are all called to serve others in many ways.  But Martha suffered from something our culture knows very well: over-working while leaving out what’s most important.  Jesus, however, stressed that all her scurrying about wasn’t the greatest priority, as much of a good deed serving was.  It was time with Him that held the most value.  Martha didn’t understand that the “good part” of having Jesus in her home wasn’t what she could do for Him, but what she could do with Him.

Another example of misplaced priorities is found in Luke 9:59-62:

 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”  Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Again, Jesus is not opposed to honoring our deceased family.  This potential disciple, however, wanted to fulfill his obligations before following Jesus. He hesitated, or “looked back.”  His priority was a good deed, not a relationship. He desired to put something first before Jesus.

Nothing these two people were doing was wrong.  Their error was that they were putting everything but Jesus first.  They were more concerned with the temporary needs of the present to see and act on what was the highest priority.

Things First

An example of putting possessions first is found in Matthew 19:16-22:

 Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”  So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.  But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother,’  and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Once again, having wealth and many possessions is not wrong.  One of God’s desires is that we prosper for the sake of the Gospel (3 John 2, 2 Corinthians 9:8). However, the heart of this man’s priorities was greed.  He loved his possessions more than he loved Jesus.  Those “things” possessed him more than he possessed them.

Me First

 When we look at the priority choices in these stories, the repetitive motivation for their error was a focus on “me.”  It seemed like Martha’s priority was focused on others, when it was focused what she thought was most important at the time. The man wishing to bury his father still had his focus on his own personal concerns.  The rich young ruler was obviously focused on pleasuring himself with money.

Sometimes we prioritize based on worry because we don’t think we’ll succeed, or selfishness because we want our way first. Even worry is an indication that our priority is in the situation, not in a Person.  The focus is still on ourselves because we’re concerned about what will happen to us if something doesn’t go as it should.  We may think we’ve got the proper order of priorities, when the first Priority we have has been choked out by the “cares of life”, “deceitfulness of riches,” and the “lust for other things” (Mark 4:15-19).

To be continued…

 

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