Question: "What does the Bible say about busyness / being too busy?"
Answer: In our supersonic postmodern society, known for its busyness and its increasing ability to deliver instantaneously, we find ourselves hurried more than our ancestors ever could have imagined. We have come a long way from the horse-and-buggy days, and because of that, our twenty-four hours a day seem more and more restrictive. We never feel like we have enough time to accomplish everything we want or need to do, and the clock keeps ticking. Amid maintaining a 1,500-calorie diet, picking up the kids from soccer practice, and keeping our car insurance current, we can somehow lose touch with what is really important. We become like robots rapidly moving from one task to the next. We are overworked, overstressed, and spiritually undernourished. Our culture promotes “bigger and better” and subtly challenges us to keep up. Whew! Who made these rules anyway? Satan loves to keep us running in circles trying to beat the clock. If he can distract us, he can minimize our usefulness to the Kingdom of God. Satan may be the Prince of Darkness, but he is also the Duke of Distraction.
As Christians, we cannot allow ourselves to be swept away in the undercurrent of the cultural stopwatch. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
The Bible places high value on rest and peaceful living. During Jesus’ earthly ministry, He Himself escaped the busyness of the crowds occasionally to renew His strength. Mark 6:31 says, “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to [His disciples], ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” It is difficult, if not impossible, for us to hear God’s still, quiet voice over the roar of the twenty-first century crowds, so, like Jesus, we must make time to rest and hear from our Lord.
A great example of the consequences of busyness is showcased in Luke 10:38–42: “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 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!’ ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’”
If we are honest, most of the time we resemble Martha more than Mary. We rush around doing “what needs to be done,” while missing the glimpses of Jesus all around us. As difficult as it is, and as contrary to our culture as it is, we must intentionally make the effort to slow down and model Mary because, as Jesus himself said, “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Philippians 4:6–7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” We must be intentional about making time to rest in Jesus. Let the phone ring, the chores can wait, and social media could use a break. Those things are not eternal. Jesus is eternal. Let us make the effort to sit at His feet and enjoy Him rather than miss Him like Martha did because she was fussing over the dishes. Isaiah 55:6 says, “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.”