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A Soul-Destroying Busyness, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
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January 25, 2023 9:00 am

A Soul-Destroying Busyness, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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January 25, 2023 9:00 am

Our society tends to define success by how many things you accomplish. But God has a different standard! Pastor J.D. challenges us to slow down and make room for rest.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. Love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible. Love always takes time and time is the one thing hurried people do not have. You see, hurried busyness reduces your capacity to love other people. One of the keys to a happy faithful life is margin. Welcome to Summit Life, the teaching ministry of Pastor J.D.

Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovich, and we're so glad that you're back with us today. I think it's safe to say that our society tends to define success by how many things you accomplish. In fact, it seems like it's a badge of honor to tell people how busy we are each week. And it starts when we're just kids feeling pressured to get involved more in sports and more clubs, more activities. And as time goes on, our schedules just get more and more full. But today Pastor J.D. challenges us to slow down and make room for rest. It's the conclusion of our teaching series titled God and the Rest of the Week. So if you missed any part of this study, you can find every message for free at

Now let's learn from today's message titled A Soul Destroying Busyness. Luke chapter 10 verse 38. 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, 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. 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. Here we go.

Here's the myth that he shatters. 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. I remember one of the first jobs that I got when I was in college was with a Christian ministry.

And I was in charge of running a basketball tournament on the weekends that involved about 50 different teams. The first night that I did it, because it was a Christian ministry, and I remember having this feeling of just being completely just burned out and was like, oh, God, this is such an awesome fit. This is what it feels like to carry the cross and lay down my life for you. I can just feel your pleasure on me. And I just love serving you, Jesus, and I know you're proud of me.

And I just love the feeling. Now, that doesn't mean that I was doing a good job. In fact, the guy that got the job after me, I remember he was an incredibly good organizer.

And I remember going to one of the tournaments that he ran and he just sat in the bleachers and watched it the whole day because he'd done so much a good job organizing it, he didn't need to be running around putting out fires, right? So it doesn't mean that you're doing a good job, and it doesn't mean that you're being faithful to Jesus either. 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. So number two, he confronts a fear. 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 going to get done if I don't do it.

Probably the fear, you know, everybody's going to think poorly of me. Everybody's going to 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. So Martha's busyness was driven by fear. Fear it wasn't going to get done, fear that everybody's going to think badly of her. 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. Number three, that's the fear that he confronts.

Here's the way forward. What does Jesus say? Martha, Martha. What he says essentially is this, Martha, come be with me. Come be with me. Martha started with works.

You should have started with Jesus. You see, the question is not, listen to this, what needs to be done? 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 because there's always one more emergency to plan for. There's always one more need to meet, always one more person who needs us, one more rainy day to prepare for. So Jesus says, don't ever start there.

Start with resting in me and then ask me what I want you to do. 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. We are to do the things that God has given to us and then we are to judge our success by faithfulness in those things. It's a principle that Stephen Covey taught in that book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It's a great principle.

It's very biblical. He used an illustration. He called it the big rocks principle.

Have you ever read the book? It basically is like this. He says, if you've got a bowl of rice and a bowl of ping pong balls, and then you've got a third bowl that you've got to put them both into. He said, if you take the rice and pour it in first and then try to put the ping pong balls in, you'll never fit it all in. He said, but if you put the ping pong balls in first and then pour the rice on top of it, he said, miraculously, it all fits together and you should try it at home.

It really works. And he said, what it's the principle that he's trying to illustrate is there are certain big rocks, big ping pong balls in your life. And if you will prioritize those, then all the little things, which are the grains of rice will kind of fit around these things. But if you start with the little things, with all the emails, all the requests, and don't know what your God established priorities are, then you're going to find that the most important things God has called you to do, you're going to end week by week, not having actually done those things. You've got to learn to set priorities based on what Jesus has made priorities for you. An important element in this is discovering, by the way, your own personal calling. God has called you to some specific things, usually in line with your spiritual gifts. And I learned a principle, listen, in college that I would save my life, certainly save my spiritual life.

It was this principle. Not everything that comes from heaven has my name on it. I mean, God gives the whole mission of the whole church that means you got to be sympathetic to all of it. And you certainly should leave space for God to do something you're not expecting, but not everything that comes from heaven has my name on it. I got to figure out what the Holy Spirit puts my name on.

And I got to make sure I pursue those things with excellence, because in pursuing those things is when I am being faithful to Jesus. I've been finishing up this biography of Sam James, who is the guy who planted our church 50 years ago. Fascinating biography.

I love it. He tells this story. After he planted our church, he went to Vietnam. He said, after being in Vietnam for about four years, when he saw all the incredible medical needs there, he said, I just made up my mind that if I were really going to be effective, I needed to be a doctor. I needed to go get some medical training. He said, so my wife and I, we were making plans.

I was going to come back and enroll in medical school at Duke University. And then I was going to become a doctor, and I was going to come back and be more effective. He said, and a Vietnamese brother in Christ pulled me aside and said, Sam, if you do this, you are being unfaithful to God.

And Sam said, why? He said, because God made you good at teaching the Bible, at catalyzing vision. He made you good at discipleship. And for you to take time away from that calling to go and get trained in this, even though you see this as being useful, is being unfaithful to what the Holy Spirit has given to you.

Right? And so he said, at that point, I quit obsessing about the things I wasn't doing and started to focus on the things that God has made me good at. Now, some of you, it's the opposite. God has made you good at medicine, or God has made you good at business. You need to figure out what it is that God gave you for his kingdom. And yes, you're going to have a lot of things you're involved in, but you need to prioritize the things that the Holy Spirit has especially given to you. And by the way, part of this is recognizing that there are certain seasons in your life where you're going to focus on different things more. Just like God put seasons in the environment, he put seasons in your life. And my wife talks about this. My wife tells me that Veronica says, I would love to go on every mission trip you go on.

Every time you travel, I'd love to go with you. But this is a season that God has given me where I have four kids, young kids at home. Now, she still travels with me some, and she's still very involved in the ministry, but she's like, I'm not going to be able to do it as much as I want because I know that this season, the big thing that God has given to me is to be there present with these children. And so I can't farm that out to somebody else, so I'm going to have to say no a little bit on this side so that I can say yes to the right things. There are different seasons. Now, listen, I do not want you to use that as an excuse for you to check out a ministry because at every point in your life, you've got to be involved, you've got to be serving, so do not hear that.

I'm just saying that in different seasons, you accentuate different things. One of my favorite authors, Peter Kreeft, was once asked, he's an older man now, he was once asked, what's your favorite book you've ever written? He said, favorite book I've ever written.

The one I didn't write when my kids were young. That's my favorite book because he recognized that even as a great author, there were seasons that he should do certain things. You college students, there's a season for you to study and get prepared so that God can use you, and there's a season for you to give your life away for the world. Right now, you want to be out giving your life away for the world, and God says the way you can serve me is by being a good student, getting prepared. Yes, serve your fellow students, lead them to Christ, get involved in ministry, but do not anticipate other seasons and get into them. You be faithful in the season I have for you right now. You go sit at the feet of Jesus, you find your sufficiency in him, and then you do what he tells you to do. Then, listen, obey these four rules I'm going to give you.

I don't like to give you a lot of rules, but these are really good ones, okay? And you're going to like them, I promise. You're listening to a message titled A Soul Destroying Busyness here on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. For more teaching along with transcripts of every message, visit I wanted to just take a moment and ask you about your email inbox.

Is it full of spam and newsletters that you don't remember signing up for? For most of us, that's the case, but I would like to invite you to something both wholesome and valuable to replace those things. Take the time right now to sign up for the daily email devotional from Pastor J.D. The devotionals follow along with our current teaching here on the program, so you can stay plugged into these messages regardless of your schedule.

Sign up for this free resource at slash resources. Now let's return for the final moments in our teaching series titled God and the Rest of the Week. Once again, here's Pastor J.D.

Letter A. Sleep. Leave the city to God. Listen, it is not your busyness that indicates closeness to God. It is your ability to sleep. If you've got medical insomnia, I'm not saying you're unfaithful to God.

I'm not saying that. I'm just saying that there's a sense of rest that comes from walking with Jesus because he's got the city. My college pastor said this. He said, sometimes the most spiritual, faith-filled thing you can do is take a nap.

You're like, this is the best sermon ever. I can't wait to get home and apply this this afternoon. I want to apply it right now. No, don't apply it now.

But here's why I'm excited about you applying it. D.A. Carson is a theologian. He preached a sermon on doubt one time that I thought was absolutely fascinating. He said the six major causes of doubt, five of them pretty standard, exactly what you would think they would be. The one that caught me totally off guard is the number six cause of doubt, people doubting God, sleep deprivation.

He said, when you burn the candle at both ends, you engage in more and more cynicism. God made us as complicated beings, uniting our spiritual health to our physical well-being. Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap. Did you know this? Listen, I didn't realize this. This blew me away. The average American today gets two hours less of sleep per night than our great grandparents did 100 years ago because they went to sleep when the sun went down. Work hard in the day and then sleep and leave the city or the ministry or the family to God.

Here's the second thing, flows right out of it. Refuse to worry about tomorrow. Refuse means you make a choice. I'm not going to worry about tomorrow. Here's what Jesus said. Therefore, do not be anxious, fearful about tomorrow. Why? Because tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Tomorrow has its own troubles.

I love that. Don't worry about tomorrow. Why, Jesus? Because tomorrow has got its own troubles. Well, that's exactly what I was worried about about tomorrow.

Right? You know what Jesus is saying there? Don't worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow has got its own troubles. I'll be there tomorrow, just like I'm here today. So why don't you trust me to deal with the problems today and then trust that I'm the same yesterday, today, and forever, and so I'll be there tomorrow. And when you get up tomorrow, you're going to have a whole new set of problems, but you've got a whole new set of infinite power. So then you can just trust that the same God who's with you today will be with you tomorrow.

So quit worrying about tomorrow and just worry about today. Jesus is going back to a principle in the Old Testament that was called the principle of manna. You know manna?

You know that story? Israel's wandering in the wilderness. They don't have food, so God rains down basically like Ritz crackers and Cheez Whiz on them every day. And the rule was you could only collect enough for that day. And of course, back then, there were Martha type A kind of people who were like, well, you can't just collect enough for one day because what if God forgets one day? So I got to get my own store of manna. I got to dig me a hole and I got to bury some manna and build a manna shelter and get some manna insurance and get some guns and write a manifesto so everybody else runs out of manna.

I'm going to have some. And so that's what they did. But the moment that you stored more than you could deal with that day, it bred worms and it stank. And what God was trying to teach them is you trust me for the provision today and tomorrow you're going to get up hungry, but I'm going to rain down some more manna. And what he's trying to teach you is you worry about God's provisions today and let God worry about tomorrow because God's always the same. And he's yesterday, today, forever, letter C, create some margin. Now, unfortunately, I don't have time to go into this one to a great extent because I have left no margin in this sermon. But when your schedule is hyper-packed, you can't deal with the things that God genuinely brings to you. You know the story of the Good Samaritan where the guy's walking along, there's a guy on the side of the road and you pass him by?

When I read that story, here's how I read that. People typically talk about it being a lack of compassion, but I don't think, you might disagree if you know me and you're like, I don't know, but here's how I see myself. I don't think it's a lack of compassion that would cause me not to stop. I think I would feel sorry for the guy, but I'd be like, kind of side of the road, I ain't got no time for that. I'd call my assistant and be like, would you send out one of the interns at the church to come take care of this guy? I got to go to the church and prepare a sermon on compassion and I got a limited amount of time to do that in. My schedule has no room for God to present things to me that he wants me to deal with, right? And so I'm supposed to create some margin so when the Holy Spirit does bring something to me, I've got the capacity to be able to deal with it.

Here's what John Ortberg says about this. Listen, this is good. Love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible. Love always takes time and time is the one thing hurried people do not have. You see, hurried busyness reduces your capacity to love other people. One of the keys to a happy, faithful life is margin. Letter D. Number four, observe the Sabbaths.

I'll tell you why I pluralized that in a minute. First of all, let me explain to you what a Sabbath is. When God set up the economic structure of Israel, he gave them a rule that came out of nowhere, it seemed like. He said, six days you're going to work, seventh day you're going to take off. That doesn't seem revolutionary to you because we're Americans and we feel like our God-given right is to take off Saturday and Sunday. But back then, nobody took any days off because in an agrarian society, the crops had to be harvested daily. They had to be plowed daily. You were working every single day. The idea that you would work for six days and then just take off a day and do nothing, that was crazy.

That was crazy. But God had him do it, listen, because he wanted a space so that he could show up and multiply what they did on the other six days and give them more than if they had worked by themselves for seven days. The principle of the Sabbath is that God sometimes wants you to back off of what you feel like you need to do to give him space so that he can do what he will do and just be God. Here's how God applied that same principle to money. He told them to tithe. He didn't tell them to tithe because he knew they had 10% in their budget they could do without.

He told them to tithe because he wanted them to have less to meet their needs than they felt like they needed so that they could give him space, 10% of their budget, where he could show up and he could multiply and he could show them that he was the God who provided and not what they could earn. Really, there are three Sabbaths that God establishes in your life. One is the actual Sabbath. The other one is the tithe.

The third one is sleep. They're gifts. They're gifts that God gives to you to relieve you of the burden of the burden of provision and all these most important things. You're used to thinking of them as duties. I've got to tithe. I've got a Sabbath of pizzas.

They're gifts. That's what Jesus said. Listen, come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and get busy.

Is that what he said? No, come to me and I will give you rest. The sign that you're walking with Jesus is not hyper business. It's this sense of rest. They're gifts that God gives you. They're unique privileges for those of you who are walking with Jesus. See, if you're not a Christian, that's kind of bad news. I'm not trying to be snooty to you, but I'm just trying to tell you, those who are Christians have a companion, a savior, a God who is walking beside them saying, do less than you have to do. Work for six days, take off a Sabbath. Man, take timbers in your money and give it to things that you love, things that you want God to give it. Then I'll just multiply the other 90% and I'll multiply the six days and I'll just show you that I'm God and you don't have to be. It's so sweet, I'm going to tell you, to walk with Jesus when you let him be God and you let yourself just be the creature who obeys. He says, create some margin. He says, observe the Sabbath.

Come to Jesus, rest in him and do what he tells you to do. Let me show you something in the Old Testament real quick, just real quick, that this is established in Genesis 1. I bet you've never read it this way though. You know what's just an interesting thing in Genesis 1 when God created the world. You ever sketch this, it says an evening and morning were the first day and then evening and morning. And you think, why did he write it like that? Don't we think of morning and then evening as the day? Isn't that how you and I talk about it?

Here's why. Evening, he tells you, is when they walked with God. Morning was when they worked in the garden.

Rest came before work. They came out of their relationship with God and then they went into their work with a fundamentally different attitude. And that is, they're not God. They're not having to bribe for themselves because the God they walked with that evening is the God, see, that provides for them.

You and I understand that even more clearly, right? Because now our Sabbath is Sunday, which is the day that Jesus resurrected, where he received us into himself and said, I will never leave you or forsake you. So you were supposed to begin your week, the first day of the week by reminding yourself that God is God. And then you worked the other five or six days with a sense of rest that you gained from reflecting on your position in Christ on Sunday. You're like, well, that's why I don't go to Saturday church because we got to do it on Sunday. Evening and morning are the first day. That's right.

It starts on Saturday night. Boom. All right. But the principle is, listen, rest is not what God gives you when you're exhausted. Rest is what he gives you to begin, right? It's what he gives you to begin. That's what he's telling Martha. Start with me.

This is the best thing. And then work from there. And if you do that, you'll rest even while you're working because you're resting in me. Listen, let me close all this by giving you a warning that Jesus gave. Probably in this passage, it's probably the most somber warning he gives to us. The greatest danger of busyness is that it keeps you from the one necessary thing. What's the one necessary thing? Walking with God, knowing God. He says, Mary's chosen the one thing that will never be taken away from her. Everything else that you're giving your time to is going to be taken away from you. Career, kingdom, family, health, wealth, it's all going to evaporate. But if you walk with Jesus and you teach your family to walk with Jesus, that'll never be taken away. That's why Moses in the greatest Psalm on time, Psalm 90 verse 12, Lord, teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to learn wisdom.

Teach me how all these things that I'm working for fade away so that then I can apply my heart to the first and best thing, which is to know you and walk with you. You need to give very somber reflection to how you're spending your time because how you spend your time is how you spend your life. What does your calendar say about your trust in God? Are you observing the Sabbath? Are you observing them in your finances and in your schedule? Does your calendar show that? What does your calendar show you prioritize? You and I will give an account for how we spend our time. What does your calendar say about what you trust most and what you prize most?

Because how you spend your time is how you spend your life. What you prize the most is what you pursue the hardest. So where does God fit into your calendar these days? A convicting message today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer and the conclusion of our teaching series titled God and the Rest of the Week. One of our goals here at Summit Life is to equip everyone who listens to be a disciple making disciple and developing healthy spiritual disciplines is an important part of that. If you're looking for ways to grow in your faith and practice this year like I am, I'd like to encourage you to get our new set of 52 memory verse cards. The purpose of these cards is to help you not just recall scripture in a moment of great need but to also grow deeper in your knowledge of the Word of God itself. We'll send them to you as an expression of thanks when you donate today to support this ministry. Summit Life is funded by listeners like you so your gift truly makes a difference. You're giving a college student gospel-centered messages of hope to strengthen their faith on a secular campus. You're likely giving the gospel to someone daily who has never heard it before and you're helping them come to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Ask for the scripture memory cards when you give a generous one-time donation or when you choose to become a monthly gospel partner by calling 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220 or give online at

I'm Molly Vidovitch. Be sure to listen again tomorrow as Pastor JD begins a new teaching series in the book of Titus called Everyday Theology. Join us Thursday for Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-25 10:46:30 / 2023-01-25 10:58:13 / 12

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