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A Soul-Destroying Busyness

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
January 24, 2023 9:00 am

A Soul-Destroying Busyness

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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January 24, 2023 9:00 am

Most of us live our lives at a frantic pace. But Pastor J.D. urges us to observe the principle of the Sabbath, explaining why it’s so important to make space for rest and relationships.


Today on Summit Life, a strong warning from Pastor J.D. Greer. There are few things in your life that are as damaging and as potentially soul destroying as busyness, and the real tragedy is you never see it coming. It's busyness that will destroy your joy, cripple your capacity to love, and it is busyness which will cause you to lose your ability to even hear from God. Welcome back to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian, J.D.

Greer. I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch, and we're thankful to be jumping into God's Word with you again. Today we're talking about a topic that's probably going to resonate with just about everyone, busyness. Whether you're juggling high school, AP classes, and friends, whether you're a young parent trying to keep up with all of the household demands or an employee trying to find the work-life balance, we all find ourselves wishing there were more hours in the day.

And frankly, there's lots of good things to be doing, but is that always best? Pastor J.D. reminds us today why it's so important to make space in our calendars for God to work in us too. It's part of our teaching series titled God and the Rest of the Week.

And if you missed any of the previous messages, you can get caught up at Today's message is titled A Soul Destroying Busyness. I want to talk about a problem that most all of us have, but one that you have probably never heard a sermon on before, and that is the problem of busyness. And the reason that you have never heard a sermon on it before is that I am your pastor. I will tell you right up front, I am not self-righteous about this. I would say that if we had to single out five people in this church that needed this counsel, I would be at the top of that list.

So please hear that with that acknowledgement. We are busy people. We are busy with our jobs. More than 86 percent of men and 67 percent of women work more than 40 hours a week at their job, yet two-thirds of them say they still don't have enough time to get everything done in the week.

Only 57 percent of Americans use all of their allotted vacation time. This has got negative effects, not just on our families who suffer from overwork, but also just on us personally. CNN did this six-year study of 2,500 different workers, and they found that those who worked 11-hour days were two and a half times more likely to become depressed than those who worked merely eight-hour days. On top of that, we are not getting enough sleep, which has its own bad effects on us. As you know, the average American gets about two hours less sleep per night than recommended, which leads to all kinds of problems, obesity, diabetes, lack of concentration and efficiency, and more depression. So we're busy at work. We're not getting enough sleep.

We're not taking vacation time. And then some of you have kids, which adds new layers of busyness to your life. I was listening to Jim Gaffigan, who has four kids like I do, and he said, people often ask me, what was it like to go from three kids to four kids? He said, three kids to four kids. He said, okay, imagine you're drowning, and then someone hands you a baby.

He said, that's what that transition is like. So you're busy. I get that. I'm busy. We are busy people. And to be totally frank with you, our future does not look like it's getting any less busy. First of all, whatever stage of life you're in, you feel like you are insanely busy. And if you could just get to the next one, you'll be much more relaxed. I certainly felt like that in college. I was like, man, if I could just get married, have a family, have a job, have kids, and not have all these classes to study for, life would be so easy. I hate to break it to you college students. This is the most relaxed time of your life. I know you feel busy.

I did too, but it's just not getting any better. I'm going to tell you that. Plus, we have all these supposed labor and time-saving devices, which don't seem to be actually doing the trick. I saw a New York Times article that said, when we went on vacation 30 years ago, it used to be like an on-off switch.

He said, now, because of all these ways we're connected, it's more like a dimmer switch, if anything. There was a now infamous study that was presented to Congress back in the 1960s. And the study claimed, before Congress, that with all these new labor-saving devices that were being invented, within 30 years, they said, the average American would only work 15 hours a week.

And the government's main problem would be how to fill up all the free time that people had on their hands. Is that anybody's problem right now? Did that come true for anybody? It's certainly not mine. So this is our God and the rest of the week series. And we're going to end it by talking about something that really affects everything else. And that is how you set up your calendar for the glory of God and in a way that will not kill you.

Let me make a rather strong statement to you, but I'll stand behind it. There are few things in your life that are as damaging and as potentially soul-destroying as busyness. And the real tragedy is you never see it coming. Blaise Pascal, a philosopher of 300 or 400 years ago, one of my favorites, said that, listen to this, he said, busyness sends more people to hell than unbelief. Even after you're a Christian, I hope to show you this today, it's busyness that will destroy your joy. It is busyness that will cripple your capacity to love. And it is busyness which will cause you to lose your ability to even hear from God. Jesus told a story in the Bible about busyness.

Maybe you've never thought of this story in that way, but that is exactly what I believe it is about. So if you have a Bible, I'd love you to take it out and power them up and go down to Luke chapter 10. We are going to begin Luke chapter 10 verse 38, and it goes like this. Now as they went on their way, they being the disciples, Jesus entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching, but Martha was distracted with much serving. In other words, she was really, really busy. And so she, Martha, went up to Jesus and said, Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?

Tell her to help me. Right? Now she's tattletaling. A, she feels self-righteous. B, and now she's bossing Jesus around.

Right? Which is just not a good habit to get into. So we're talking three strikes here. Verse 41, but the Lord answered her, Martha, Martha. This is, by the way, not a way of showing disgust or impatience. Whenever you repeat a name in Hebrew, it's a way of showing intense emotion. It's like putting a lot of exclamation points after Martha's name. In other words, this is very important.

You are anxious and you are troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her. Many commentators have suspected that in this story you have two different personality types that are being presented. Martha is what we now refer to as type A. She is task oriented. She gets stuff done. Mary is type whatever the other letter is. She is people oriented.

She just likes to hang out, and everyone likes to be around her. That might be true, but I am pretty confident that Jesus is not in this story trying to indicate that he prefers the Mary personality best. He created both personality types, and he's got a purpose for both. And he is certainly not saying that no one should ever be busy preparing meals, that we should all just sit around all day every day doing our quiet times. That would go against so many other things that Scripture teaches.

One of the spiritual gifts that God gives is serving and hospitality. There is no way that you can read the Gospels and not conclude that Jesus was an incredibly busy man. In fact, the Gospel of Mark, it uses the word immediately over and over again throughout the Gospel.

Immediately he went here and immediately he went there. In other words, Jesus was a very busy person. Paul, the apostle, after listing out in 2 Corinthians all the things that he was involved with, he said this, plus daily I've got all the pressures of all these churches that I have planted weighing down on me. Paul in another place would say, I worked harder than anybody that I knew. So he's not saying that we're not ever supposed to be busy.

So here's the question. Why is he picking on Martha? Well, you see the world usually values Marthas more than they value Marys. Marthas are usually considered to be great workers and great Christians. What's more is Marthas usually value themselves a great deal and they also consider themselves to be great Christians. And so Jesus chooses to deal with a rather dangerous temptation for competent, responsible, Martha type of people. You see, listen to this.

This is key. Just like it is harder for rich people to enter the kingdom of heaven, it's also harder for competent people to find the will of God. And I want to tell you why in this message. So here's what Jesus does in this story. He number one, shatters a myth. Number two, he confronts a fear. And then number three, he points to a better way forward. Simple, right?

Here we go. Here's the myth that he shatters. Busyness equals faithfulness. Jesus shatters a well-entrenched, deeply held belief that is especially true in churches that busyness equals faithfulness. Many of us like to be busy because it is when we feel busy that we feel important and we feel needed and we feel valued by other people and even valued by God. There is a myth that in churches, all kinds of churches, that if you're busy, then you must be doing what God has told you to do.

Jesus in one story debunks that myth and says, no, busyness does not equal faithfulness. You're listening to Summit Life with J.D. Greer and a message titled, A Soul Destroying Busyness. If you haven't already, be sure to check out our website for more free resources, along with our complete teaching archive.

It's at You know, during Jesus's time of temptation in the wilderness, he countered Satan's deceitful words with words of truth found in scripture. Even though Jesus is himself the word of God, he used the written word of God for battling temptation. The psalmist understood the word's power in better ways. The psalmist understood the word's power in better ways. The psalmist understood the word's power in battling temptation. I have stored up your word in my heart so that I might not sin against you. So why wouldn't we hold God's word in that same regard? One step in that direction might be to commit to memorizing scripture this year, and we've made it easier by offering our annual collection of scripture memory cards. Make sure you get yours today and start the year off right with God's word at the forefront. Now let's get back to our teaching.

Here's Pastor J.D. So number two, he confronts a fear. What drives Martha's busyness?

What drives it? Fear. You see where it says she's anxious?

Anxious is the synonym for fear. Verse 41, so what are Martha's fears? Well, we have to speculate a little bit here, but I'm sure it was the fear that it's not gonna get done if I don't do it.

Probably the fear, you know, everybody's gonna think poorly of me. Everybody's gonna be like, yeah, that's the girl that when Jesus came over, there were dust bunnies all over her floor and toothpaste spots on her mirror, laundry piles everywhere. You know, I mean, this is the girl that didn't have dinner prepared. And Martha's like, you can't do that when the Son of God comes to your house. Son of God can't get to your house and say, I'm hungry. And you say, well, it's bow time.

You know, you can't do that, right? So Martha's busyness was driven by fear. Fear it wasn't gonna get done, fear that everybody's gonna think badly of her. Now, before I tell you how Jesus confronts that fear, let me get you to consider, isn't a lot of your busyness driven by the same fears? When you really think about it, maybe you need to do that this week, think about your busyness and trace back whether or not a lot of it is not driven by your fears and chances are the same ones that drove Martha trying to please people.

Scared of what they will say if you don't host the shower or do the extra work or volunteer to coach the team or bring the cupcakes or have the cup of coffee with them or whatever they want. Maybe it's always trying to prove yourself. You can never rest because you're always trying to prove something to your parents, an older sibling, an ex-girlfriend, a high school coach, maybe yourself and there's a voice behind you and inside of you always saying it's not good enough. You gotta keep working, you've got to do more. Maybe it's this desire that you just like to feel important like I shared with you a minute ago. Interesting in those studies and statistics I cited earlier about busyness, the Wall Street Journal did its own study on those studies and they said that a little investigation into these studies, listen to this, uncovered the fact that a lot of people exaggerate the hours they work to prove that they are useful.

So in other words, sometimes we overwork because we like to feel useful and then when we don't, we lie about overworking because we want other people to also think that we are useful even when we are not. Maybe it's that fear. Maybe it's pride. You're like, I'm the only person who can do this. I'm unique. I'm special.

I'm a snowflake and so I've got to be the one who does this. Maybe it's a fear that if you don't keep up with everybody else, you're going to miss out on life. So you always got to take the second job or the third job.

You always have to work the extra hours. You always got to get to the next rung on the ladder because if not, you're not going to be able to afford the things that some of your friends have and how could life possibly be good if you didn't drive this, live there, go on that vacation. So it's a fear that if you don't get hired that you're going to miss out on life. Or maybe it's the fear that if you don't pile up a lot now, you're going to be without in the future.

So you always got to be storing stuff away because it's never enough and that's the tragedy of that is there's always one more emergency you're not going to know how to plan for. Maybe it's the fear that you're not doing enough to earn God's approval and you feel like maybe one day if I could ever just get myself to a place where I collapsed from busyness, completely burned out, then I'll just say to God, there I am God. I'm my own burnt offering. Here I am. Hope you're pleased with me. Parents, many of you are insanely busy taking your kids all over the place.

Why? Listen, driven by the fear that your kids are going to fall behind. A professor, George Mason University, a guy named Brian Kaplan, conducted an extensive study. He finally got a sample set, large enough, he said, to do this responsibly. An extensive study on biological twins adopted by different families in the United States. And he said, we watched to make sure that one of the families was very active in all the extracurricular, kind of hyper schedule.

You know, you got to get them in this early, got to do this and violin over here and all this. So he said that was one. And then the other one was families that were really laid back and hardly didn't do any of that stuff. He said, after tracing all these biological twins for years, he said, we can confidently say that having the kids involved in all these extracurricular activities made no statistical difference in how the kid turned out. It did not make any difference in where they got into college. It did not make any difference in how smart they became.

It certainly did not make any difference in how emotionally balanced they came. He said, as long as the parent was involved, as long as the parent had a good relationship with them, he said it made zero statistical difference. He said, what we did notice, however, is that the parents that were hyper scheduled, what did happen is they put on their kids what he called a secondhand stress, like secondhand smoke, you know, the parents smoke and you inhale it. The stress of the parents and the worry of the parents got infused into the kids. And that's what caused the emotional problems.

What I'm trying to tell you is a lot of us are driven by a fear that if we don't have our kids hyper scheduled and all these things that our kids are going to fall behind. Now we could do this one of two ways. I'm just, I'm doing it the statistical way. Cause a lot of times that's what you believe.

It doesn't make any difference. He said, it just came out. They were smart. They just, they just came.

If they were good at athletics, they figured that out in seventh grade. And he started to do that. And then he said this, or actually he didn't say this. This is what I said a couple of weeks ago.

I was like, it's what we, it's what we, sorry. Remember I told you that in America, we like to have our kids experience rich, even if it means they're relationally poor. And then if you understand the Bible, you would reverse those that you're going to have your kids experience poor so long as they're relationally rich because relationally rich ends up having more of a significant effect on the formation of your child than having them experience all the things that you want them to experience so that they don't get left behind. Number three, that's the fear that he confronts. Here's the way forward. What does Jesus say? Martha, Martha, again, repetition, intensity of emotion. What he says essentially is this, Martha, come be with me.

Come be with me. First of all, his approval is given as a gift. His approval is not given to you because you are insanely busy for him. He gave it to you because Jesus purchased it for you on a cross.

And God could not love you more, regardless of your level of busyness or your supposed usefulness for the kingdom of God. He accepts you because of the blood of his son. So he's like, Mary, my approval is a gift. You're not going to work to earn my approval. Second, all that we are striving for is in him.

Jesus is a better source of identity. I mean, basically he's saying to her, in me, you have the absolute approval of the only one whose opinion really matters anyway. So if you've got my approval, if I am saying to you, well done, good and faithful servant, then why are you busy trying to manage the opinions of everybody else? Why are you obsessed about what people say about you?

They say about your housekeeping, what they say about your ability to do your job. Why don't you think about my approval? Because my approval is the only one who actually matters. It's a better source of identity than what other people tell you. Isn't what the son of God thinks about us more important than what human creatures think?

Of course it is. He's the bread of life, which means that when we feast upon him, when he have his joy, that's what fills our hearts. It's not having all the things that our friends have. It's knowing that we know God. See?

Third thing he's saying to her is, Jesus is saying, I'm the competent. So you don't need to be. I mean, think about this. Why is Martha stressed about dinner? Isn't this the guy that can take a lunchable and feed an entire stadium?

You think that guy sitting around worried about where dinner's going to come from that night? No. Here's the better way. Come to the feet of Jesus, find your sufficiency in him, and then do what he tells you to do. See, it's not that he's saying, don't work. He's just saying, don't start with work.

Start with me. Jesus told Martha, listen, that she had neglected the best thing. Best thing is not the only thing. Best thing means the first thing. So you start at the feet of Jesus, resting in him, and hearing from him. And then when he tells you to do something, then you go and do it. I mean, don't you think if Jesus had said to Mary, hey, Mary, I need you to go get me a cup of water.

I need you to make dinner. Don't you think Mary would have got up and done that? Of course she would have. She didn't start there. Martha started with work.

She should have started with Jesus. You see, the question is not, listen to this, what needs to be done? The question is, what does he want me to do? The question is not, what needs to be done?

The question is, what does he want me to do? We live in a world of seemingly infinite need. And so the question, what needs to be done, if we ask that, and that's what drives our life, will never get rest. So Jesus says, don't ever start there.

Start with resting in me, and then ask me what I want you to do. Proverbs 3, 5, and 6, trust in the Lord with all your heart and all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make your path straight. Well, I love that verse because it is so simple in telling me what is my responsibility and what is God's responsibility.

Right? It's really clear. What's my responsibility? My responsibility is to trust in the Lord with all my heart and in all my ways, acknowledge him. It means to rest in him and then do what he tells me to do.

What's his responsibility? To make my path straight. In other words, to make everything come together. Psalm 127, unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It's in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil, for he gives to his beloved. Remember this? Sleep. I asked you a couple weeks ago, I was like, what is the sign in this verse that you are beloved by God?

Remember what the answer was? Sleep. That's right. This whole verse implies, listen to this, this is important, that you have a job during the day.

Right? Because you're the one during the day that's guarding the city. You're the watchman. You're the one that's growing the crops. But there comes a point, see, at which your body has to sleep. And when you do that, there's this fear, there's a point, I'm not on the wall, who's going to watch the city?

I can't grow the crops, who's going to harvest the crops? God will. Because he never slumbers or sleeps. Have you not known?

Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary. He gives power to the faint, and to those who have no might, he increases strength.

So you can do what you're supposed to do during the day, and then sleep at night, knowing that God is watching the city, God is raising the crops, God's growing the family, God's blessing the ministry, and God puts you to sleep so that you can rest in him and rejoice in what he has told you to do, and then leaving the rest to him. Martha is running around saying, who's going to get dinner? Who's going to take care of all this stuff? The one who multiplies fish and bread has got it under control. Busyness does not equal faithfulness.

That little phrase needs to go on the refrigerator. A strong message today from Pastor J.D. Greer here on Summit Life. One of our primary goals around here is to equip everyone who listens to Summit Life with resources to become disciple-making disciples. So Pastor J.D., what is something foundational that we can do to increase our personal faith and thrive outside of church in our day-to-day lives? Our current teaching series is called God and the Rest of the Week, and what we're seeing is how the gospel affects the areas of our lives where we spend the other six days, the 99% of our time that is outside of the church walls. Because if you truly understand the gospel, you'll see that it changes you not just in that hour or two you're in the church on Sunday, but it changes everything. And so one of the things we want to give you that will help with that is a pack of scripture memory cards, 52 of them, for you to be able to put the Word of God in your heart so that it comes to mind when you're in the midst of an attack, you're at a time of discouragement or doubt.

The Bible is a book of promises, but you can't claim them if you don't know them. And these scripture memory cards will go a long way in helping you do that. So I want you to take a look at them, and I want you to reserve your set at J.D.

Greer dot com. We're so excited about this new resource, and we would love to get you your own set of memory verse cards. And as our way of saying thank you for your one-time donation of $35 or more, or for your new monthly commitment as a gospel partner, we'll send you our brand new exclusive resource, the 2023 scripture memory cards. Ask for your set today when you call 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220.

Or you can give online at I'm Molly Benovitch inviting you to join us next time when we conclude this teaching series called God and the Rest of the Week. Be sure to tune in Tuesday to Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-24 14:17:41 / 2023-01-24 14:28:46 / 11

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