Busyness vs. Diligence

I don’t know about you but the busier I get often the more weary I become. It is way to easy for me to become absolutely consumed and overwhelmed by my schedule. I don’t know if life has always been so busy, or if its just a North American cultural thing. However, the more I understand busyness- the more I don’t believe God intended for us to be controlled by it.

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So what is busyness?

Busyness is defined as…

  • the quality or condition of being busy.
  • lively but meaningless activity.

Busyness- lively and meaningless activity? Aka, it keeps you moving but it doesn’t have much purpose to it. So what does that mean for us if the definition of busyness is so contrary to the purposeful and life-filled journey promised to us (John 10:10)?

When looking at scripture, there is absolutely nothing that encourages us to be busy people. Rather, we are encouraged to be diligent people.

“The plans of the diligence leads surely to advantage…. (Proverbs 21:5)” Charwuts is the Hebrew term used here to describe something sharp and diligent. Diligence is a root word for faithfulness- and faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit. Faithfulness keeps us sharp, ready and alert for whatever comes our way. I feel like we often mistake busyness with diligence. Just because we are busy- does not mean we are being diligent. Often what actually ends up happening is that in our busyness we lose our sharpness. We forget why we are even busy in the first place and instead of walking in diligence – we are controlled by our weariness. This often is because we do not take the time to be with the only one who is truly faithful, so we have no idea how to respond in faithfulness. Instead we fill our schedule to the max so we feel like we are doing something for the Lord- instead of partnering with Him. Don’t be deceived, busyness does not build you up in any way. Diligence with what you’ve been given does. Get to know what God has given you specifically and invest into it. Instead of saying “YES” to everything and everyone, ask the Lord first. This way you can truly let your yes be YES because you know confidently if He has asked you to do something- he will give you all that you need to do it. And you can let your no be NO without guilt because you understand what the Lord has called you into for right now. Be diligent, be faithful, stay sharp and listen. This is the building block to step into the fullness of what he has for you- instead of being worn down by busyness.

2 Peter 3:14

“Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.”

 

You are ever so loved!

-Rachel Elizabeth-

 

You Are Seen

  I’ve been reading through the “Daily Message – One Year Bible” lately, and loving every moment of it! This paraphrased translation has helped me to see the beautiful grace in these stories of old. Today, I find myself dwelling on the story of Hagar (Genesis 16). Her story, at first glance seems quite sad. Her life is seemingly controlled by the will of her masters. She is told by her mistress Sarai (Sarah) to sleep with Abram (Abraham) in the hopes of producing an heir for his line because Sarai is barren. Once she becomes pregnant she then suffers the abuse of Sarai, and eventually ends up running away. But as she runs to the wilderness the Lord meets her and declares that she and her son will prosper. Yet it is interesting that it was not in the promise of a grand future that Hagar took comfort in. It was rather the simple truth that God saw her that gave her the most hope for her future.

The word translated as “see” in English, is the Hebrew verb ra’ah (רָאָה). It means “to see, look at, inspect, perceive, consider, regard, look after, see after, learn about, observe, watch, look upon, and find out”. For Hagar to declare that God is the God who sees her, means that God looked at her because he wanted to. Not just because she happened to be passing by, but because he truly was watching her with intent, with purpose and with a plan.

God is looking at us with that same intentness. Yet how easy is it to feel like our circumstances control us? That our future is determined by our situations, and it feels like our only choice is to run or remain in misery. Yet there’s so much more for us. You see, God spoke to Hagar when she stepped outside of her situation, and then encouraged her to go back with fresh vision of what He was doing with her life (you can read how God fulfilled his promise to her in Genesis 21).

When we take the time to step outside of our situation and go to a place where the busyness and noise cannot touch us, we are giving God the space to speak over you what He sees. This helps us to view our situation with the clarity that is from the Kingdom where we truly belong rather than the disparity this world offers. No matter what your situation is, take comfort that God is looking at you with intention. Nothing is unseen by him, not one thing forgotten and not one person lost. I would encourage to picture his eyes looking into your life, into your being and into your future. In the quiet ask him to reveal what He sees, and allow these truths to settle in and become a part of you. Carry this into your everyday and no longer will these situations have any hold on you.

Be encouraged, He is the God who sees YOU!

Genesis 16:6-13 (THE MSG)
“Sarai was abusive to Hagar and Hagar ran away. An angel of God found her beside a spring in the desert; it was the spring on the road to Shur. He said, “Hagar, maid of Sarai, what are you doing here?” She said, “I’m running away from Sarai my mistress. ”The angel of God said, “Go back to your mistress. Put up with her abuse.” He continued, “I’m going to give you a big family, children past counting.
From this pregnancy, you’ll get a son: Name him Ishmael;
for God heard you, God answered you.
He’ll be a bucking bronco of a man,
a real fighter, fighting and being fought,
Always stirring up trouble,
always at odds with his family.”
She answered God by name, praying to the God who spoke to her, “You’re the God who sees me!
“Yes! He saw me; and then I saw him!”

Love Because You Are Loved

 This isn’t really much of a blog post, it’s actually just the outline of the five minute sermon I had the honor of sharing at my church this Sunday along with four other amazing individuals. So if your reading this, I hope this can encourage you wherever you are and whatever you are facing. You are dearly loved.

Matthew 22:34-40 (ESV) 

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducee’s, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.  “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”  And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

I am a bit of a health nut… or more like health freak. I definitely spend way too much time researching what is good to put in your body- and what is not. And I’ll be honest, I try so hard not to judge people on their food choices. But some days it is actually painful for me to hear about them. When you eat that huge cheeseburger, and fries and milkshake in front of me, my heart actually goes out to you. And not out of “my eating choice is better than yours” attitude, but with a real and genuine concern for your arteries and well-being.

Now, most people put up with me because they can see that it is a genuine passion of mine. They know this is something I both practice and preach. If I didn’t take care of myself in this way, I would have no ground on to which encourage others to.People wouldn’t take my advice seriously if I didn’t understand this stuff myself, it’s the same way we cannot practice loving others without receiving it ourselves. We cannot make someone understand what we do not know. We cannot give what we have not received and we cannot make someone experience something we do not believe.

I love the way Eugene Peterson paraphrases this portion of the scripture in The Message, Matthew 22:37

Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.”

 The original Greek word used for love is the verb “agapaō”. Our attempt to understand this word is to define it as something that is “of persons,” to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly and to welcome, to be well pleased or contented at or with a thing.[1]”  Because it is a verb, this means it is an action word. When you think of something that is in action you think of something that is alive, something that is moving etc. So when you look at this verse, think of it as Jesus saying you are to actively welcome God into your life and to love him with all of your heart, your passion, your prayer and intelligence. But this verb “agapaō” is also used in 1 John 4:19 –“We love because he first loved us.”  

So to simplify, we love God and others actively with all of our heart – because he first loved us actively with all of His heart. God isn’t expecting us to love Himself or others without first showing us how much He loves us.  That is like someone asking an individual to marry them without the one being asked knowing who in the world this person is, or if they can even be in love with them. That’s crazy. If God wanted our love to be forced, he would have done so. But he gave us a choice. I would encourage you to give God the space in the secret place for Him to lavish His love upon you.

“And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:39

It seems that many theologians would sum up the context of this verse as – “because you love yourself so much, use that self-love to motivate you to love others to the same place”. Basically they are stating that self-love should encourage you to love others.

I think it’s important to recognize this portion of Scripture comes after “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul and mind.” It’s not saying to worship ones’ self. But rather the degree to which you love yourself is the degree to which you can love others. When God made us, he declared in Gen. 1 that “it was good” and that we were made in his very image. So when we love ourselves, we love Him. The Psalmist in Psalms 139 wrote that “We are fearfully and wonderfully made and knit together by Him in our mother’s womb.”  If this is true, and we are not taking the time to appreciate the creation that he so intentionally designed in love, how are we going to appreciate that in one another?

“On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”- Matthew 22:40

The Pharisees made the mistake of reversing these. They seemed to believe that God’s love was dependent on their ability to follow the Law. That love was dependent on performance. When Jesus told them the exact opposite, The Law was given in love as a way to be in relationship with Him until the coming of Jesus, who then would fulfill the requirements of the Law.

Sometimes I think we act in a very similar way to the Pharisees. I think the hardest thing about loving others is that we don’t always see its reward. Some people simply don’t appreciate the effort we pour into them. And it’s easy to slip into a place where we try and measure the impact we make on people’s lives and use that to determine where we stand with God.

However, this is usually rooted in insecurity. If we really believe the God who created the whole world was in love with us and even sent his only Son to die for us, we wouldn’t feel the need to go and earn his love. Why try and earn something that has already been given to you? Everything flows forth from love. So it starts in being in love with our Creator, loving who our Creator made us to be and out of this place loving his Creation.

 

You are ever so loved!

-Rachel Elizabeth-

[1] http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G25&t=ESV