And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 NIV
Have you flipped your calendar, and found another month in the rearview mirror? Are you staring at thirty-one new squares on that rectangular spiral bound book, noting names, times, and places already written in ink? Perhaps you’ve set calendar alerts on your phone that pop up with a ding.
We live in the age of busyness, moving from one activity to the next. Taking a drive-through stop for a much needed boost of caffeine-and texting while we wait for our order to be filled-we rush to the next thing.
Calendars. They’re designed to keep us on track. Though a full calendar may give us a sense of accomplishment, belonging, and perhaps recognition, it may also yield stress and fatigue. Our fully engaged schedule can result in tension and sleepless nights. Time evaporates, and joy is a word that escapes us.
In Matthew 5-7, Jesus teaches a large crowd near the Sea of Galilee. As we read His messages, He reminds us to be distinctively salt and light in the world, live with purity, forgive each other, and give to the poor. All are calls for godly living.
And then He challenges us about busyness. Busyness? Giving to the poor, adultery, divorce? Yes, we understand those. Busyness is a lifestyle to avoid? The effects of busyness are included too?
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6: 26-34 ESV)
It is interesting Jesus ties busyness to anxiety. Five times, He uses the word “anxious”. We work too many hours and we are stressed. Our mind races with concerns over finances and we are anxious. We wonder what to wear (and how we look). Jesus reminds us our Father knows our needs and He will provide them. He tells us, “don’t be anxious”.
In Luke 10:38-42, we meet a woman named Martha who was all about her schedule and her work. Honored to have Jesus as a dinner guest, Martha planned for the best, but “was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” (Luke 10: 40) Her anxiety led her to complain saying that her sister Mary, who was sitting at Jesus feet listening to His profound words, “has left me to do all the work by myself.” (Luke 10:40). Jesus responded, “Martha, you are worried.” (Luke 10:41) Jesus didn’t criticize the value of Martha’s work, but the stress and worry that went with it.
Martha should have been ecstatic to have Jesus as a guest of honor in her home, but preoccupation with her “To Do” list left little room to concentrate on Jesus and what He had to say that night. Martha had an amazing opportunity to find joy in His presence and instead found herself in the kitchen, stressed.
Opportunities to work and serve others, and the skills to do it, are God-given gifts. We should be responsible and work to our ability. We need leisure to replenish. Jesus wasn’t condemning work and activity, only our anxiety and failure to see God as our ultimate provider. Go outside, look at the birds flying without a care, and remember what Jesus said, “Martha, seek something better.”
In response to today’s devotions, consider these questions:
As you look at your schedule, are you among the overcommitted and the worried?
Does the anxiety Jesus mentioned sound familiar?
Do you wonder if you will meet the expectations of those looking to you?
Do you overcommit because you don’t want to feel left out?
Do you anticipate too much to do and not enough time to do it? Like Martha, is anxiety robbing you of peace, joy and relationship?
Is it time to readjust?