Homewreckers - Week One: Busyness & Balance
We are launching the first of two sermon series that are intended to provide some practical teaching and encouragement for us to start this new year off with purpose, direction and with a renewed commitment to following Jesus.
Let's do this--it's time to jump into this New Year with some actionable goals to match our good intentions.
Today we are going begin the first of these two series---entitled "Homewreckers: Guarding Your Family God's Way."
I'm sure it would not be a shock to you if I told you that families in our current culture are complicated, overscheduled, underfunded, and facing a multitude of crises on a number of fronts.
But you might be surprised to know that Christian families are facing the same kinds of crises, and often at higher rates than their non-Christian counterparts.
Divorce among evangelical Christians is just as higher or higher than everyone else. According to recent studies, Christian families are at least if not more stressed, burned out and suffering from financial crises as people who identify as non-Christian.
Christian families are struggling like everyone else with being too busy, not communicating well, financial difficulties and they are also struggling with simply making room for Jesus in their life together.
You see, the problem that many of us who call ourselves Christians are having to come to grips with in the midst of all of this is that we have this notion that because we are Christian, it ought to be easier for us. We feel like because we say we follow Jesus we should be exempt from all of the hardships and heartache.
I mean we know that's not the case... but still.
Maybe some of you who are sitting here today are feeling me in this.
Today we're going to take the first steps in a month-long study from the book of Proverbs on ways we can guard our families God's way.
The One Big Idea that I want us to hold on to today is simply this:
BUSYNESS WITHOUT BALANCE LEADS TO BANKRUPTCY
We live in a world that is obsessed with speed. If we don't get what we want in a hurry, we almost don't want it. There was a time just a few years ago when you would send an email, and you would know that you wouldn't get a response right away... maybe not even the day you sent it.
Now if I send an email to someone or a text, or a Facebook message, or a Twitter direct message, or a message on Linkedin, or a comment on Instagram and they don't message me back right away, I get agitated and impatient.
Anyone with me? It's confession time!
And it just keeps getting faster... and faster...
Check out this awesome quote:
“People are born and married, and live and die, in the midst of an uproar so frantic that you would think they would go mad of it. - William Dean Howells
Now check out when this quote was made: 1907. Crazy, right?
Think about the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning. Almost everyone in here does the same thing. If you reach for the phone, you're in good company because a bunch of us do that, but there's something that we all do.
We check the time. Either on our phone, the cable box, a clock by our bed... we check the time because based on the time on the clock we will know how to respond next. We calculate whether we have time for a snooze or we have to get out of bed.
And the clocks are everywhere--on our phones, on our computers, on the TV---constant reminders of how time is ticking away and you never have enough of it. And so our solution is to go faster, and faster.
And it's taking a toll on our families as we have become overscheduled, imbalanced and completely out of whack. But it's a good thing that we have some guidance. Our guidance for each of these sermons in this series is going to come from the book of Proverbs.
Read Proverbs 21:5 with me out loud:
The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.
Okay, let's take just a few moments to break this verse down a bit. Because the English translation doesn't really do it justice.
First, the word "plans" in Hebrew is the word mah-sabah, and it means thought, imagination, intention or purpose, which is a bit more intimate, and detailed than just "plans." It speaks to a way of being and thinking that isn't really restricted to one simple moment.
Second, the word "haste" in this context is the word as which isn't always used negatively, but in this particular context, it definitely has a negative connotation. Because according to the ancient Hebrew tradition, when haste has to do with finances it is almost always connected to greed. And when it's connected to decision making it is always connected to impulsivity and a lack of discernment.
You also see that the contrast that's being made here is between diligence and haste, which doesn't seem to make sense. Those aren't opposites, right?
But in this proverb, diligence is inextricably connected to taking care, slowing down, counting the cost. Which takes things a bit deeper than you might have seen at first glance. This isn't a proverb about prosperity per se. It's not all about riches, at least in the monetary sense.
What this proverb teaches us is simply this:
If we don’t learn how to slow down and find balance in our busyness it will lead us to bankruptcy—spiritual, emotional as well as financial.
So how do we figure this out? How do we learn to keep from letting our busyness leave us bankrupt and wrecking our home?
Interestingly, we find the answer in the story of Mary and Martha from Luke 10:38-42
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
The traditional interpretation of this passage has left a lot to be desired. Jesus wasn't trying to say that Martha was a bad person because she was busy. And he wasn't trying to say that Mary was better because she was acting more holy.
Martha was doing what her culture and context had taught her she needed to do to show hospitality. Mary was actually where she shouldn't have been according to her context and culture--she was sitting in a roomful of men.
But Jesus uses this moment to teach something about balance and setting the right priorities. And we can learn from this that when have busyness with no balance we run into problems.
First, we miss the joy of Jesus' presence.
The "better" thing that Jesus was talking about here wasn't centered around a sense of favoritism toward Mary. He was just indicating that at that moment the one thing that was needed was her to be present in his presence.
Jesus wasn't chiding Martha, he was trying to set her free. And we have that same call to freedom. When we pause, slow down and become aware of the presence of Jesus in our lives we get the chance to let go of all of the usual obstacles that get in the way of our realization of his presence, and the pure joy it brings us.
Second, when we have busyness without balance it can lead to anxiety, anger and then resentment.
When we lose sight of the "why" we are doing what we do... when we live as though we are constantly out of time... when we feel the pressure of feeling as though we are carrying too much on our shoulders... we can start to feel anxious, and before long that anxiety will lead us to feel angry and hurt and then eventually we may begin to resent the very people we claim to be serving... including our family.
Jesus indirectly is advocating for some margin in Martha's life here. Most of us know what it's like to live without margin. When our meetings, events, etc. are all scheduled back to back as narrowly as possible so that we can fit as much in as we can. And then something happens, or something comes up and we can't do all that we wanted to do.
Or we have an opportunity to do something "better" but we are so embroiled in what we think we need to do that we let it go.
Live with some margin in your life. Don't overschedule yourself. Leave some creative space so that you can spend time with your family--time that isn't rushed. And allow yourself the space to be able to sit at Jesus' feet every day whether it's an early morning devotion time, a long leisurely dinner, a walk---give yourself that time.
This is how we'll guard our family God's way. When we have life-giving balance, it will allow us to be filled up spiritually, emotionally and physically. And when we have that kind of balance in our family, it will allow us to thrive, grow and to be strong enough to survive even the most difficult challenge.
Because busyness without balance leads to bankruptcy.