"Are You Busy or a Busybody?"
"We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies."
2 Thessalonians 3:11 (NIV)
Busy and I have a complicated relationship.
There were years when I was too busy. Fast-forward was my mode of operation, and my family got lost in the wake. Looking back, I regret many decisions that kept us all on the go!
After a near meltdown, things had to be different. I made significant changes to balance my schedule. I stepped out of volunteer positions, cut back my hours at work and learned to honor the Sabbath. I still kept a productive pace, but this time it was healthier. Yet when people commented on how much I got done, there was this bit of shame that crept into my heart.
Were their observations innocent or a veiled suggestion, with a hint of disapproval, that I still work too much? Why did I still feel so guilty about my level of work?
Was being busy bad?
In my search to understand the truth about busyness, God led me to our key verse for today from 2 Thessalonians 3:11: "We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies."
This chapter as a whole shines a completely different light on being busy. It elevates it. Here’s what Paul (the author of 2 Thessalonians) says just before our key verse: "We were not idle when we were with you … We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate" (2 Thessalonians 3:7b, 9, NIV).
So if busy isn’t the real problem, what is? In this passage, we get a hint at a potential problem: being a "busybody."
Busybodies can look busy, but in reality they are busy with things that don’t concern them. As a result, they neglect the work they should be doing.
This truth cut right to my heart. When I take on responsibilities that aren’t mine to assume, I’m ineffective in what I am called to do. As a result, my schedule gets chaotic, and the people I love suffer from my too-busy life.
Here’s another truth. The Bible doesn’t say we need to be busy all the time. We need God’s wisdom to know when to work and when to stop. Jesus modeled rest as well as hard work. He knew when to draw away from the crowds, from ministry, from work and press pause in the middle of the day. Jesus also modeled honoring the Sabbath as a complete day of rest and honor to God.
The Bible shows us how to be busy in a healthy way. We can learn to care for our priorities and not take on those assigned to others. We are not slaves to being over busy. We can trust God to help us get our work done in six days so we can honor His command to rest.
When I realized my life was out of my control, it took time to rein it back in. There was plenty of time in prayer asking God to show me my best choices, my priorities, my work. It was a yearlong process of stepping out of wrong commitments and recommitting to right ones.
For me that meant cutting out evening activities and nighttime phone calls so I could be available for my family. It meant saying no to responsibilities I’d done for years, but consistently added stress, like singing on the worship team Sunday mornings. It meant working at home so I had flexible hours.
Getting control of our schedules isn’t always easy, but it is possible. I’m still learning to rest, and I still struggle with keeping my schedule in balance. The good news is God is faithful to help define my priorities for this season. Now I’m not ashamed of being busy in the right times with a focus on the right things.
Father, thank You for showing me that I’m wired to work in the exact way You planned. Help me guard that wiring and not take on more than I should. I want to be a woman who lives Your priorities for my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Titus 2:4-5, "Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God." (NIV)