Of all the things that distract us from God, one of the most subtle and widespread is busyness. Acute busyness is destroying families and churches. It leads to burn out and contributes to spiritual weakening. The sad part is, most of the time it is unrecognized until it’s too late. This is because busyness often wears the disguise of “ministry.” How often does ministry and ministry-related activities and programs contribute to the destruction of Christians? Our schedules are often fraught with meetings, programs, and outings, most of which have little or no impact in advancing the gospel.
Togetherness, fellowship, and activities are certainly part of our lives as social creatures, but sometimes we should simply be still. There is most definitely a time to keep our hand on the plow, and there is definitely a time to sit in the shade and rest. If we are no careful, we stand the risk of perverting that which is good and making it evil.
If we look in the scriptures, we find that our ministry is often compared to work (Eph. 4:12; Heb. 6:10; John 6:27). Work requires endurance, determination, blood, sweat, and tears. It is not far fetched to think of our work and labor in the gospel as something that is ongoing and exacting.
But, we are also called to rest. Jesus often called his disciples to come and rest (Mark 6:31). He even rebuked one of his followers for her obsessive busyness, telling her that her busyness was haphazard and pointless (Luke 10:38-42). In the same way, the Lord tells us that our oft-pointless busyness is superfluous and without any real substance.
We have the busy part down pat. It’s the rest that we need to practice. There is no shame in simply resting. I would love to see churches scale back their endless smorgasbord of programs and events and be still before God. I’d love to see an intentional push for restraint. In our culture, we value movement and activity. Anything else, we believe, constitutes laziness. When we’re excessively busy and on the go, there is no way we’re listening to God as we should. Quite the opposite, we are not listening to him. How can we, we’re too busy! Like Martha, we celebrate the frenzy while ignoring the calm.
And like Martha, at some point we will be rebuked and shamed by our Lord for our sin.