When Business Becomes Spiritual Idleness

Busyness. It seems like it affects just about all of us. Whether we work full-time, stay home with children, or juggle work and parenting, it seems there’s never enough time in the day. Laundry, cleaning, preparing meals, caring for children, involvement in church activities, work—the list could go on and on.

Not that being busy is inherently wrong.

For centuries it’s been said that idle hands are the devil’s workshop. In many cases this is true. Kids and teens who have nothing to keep them occupied tend to land themselves in trouble, and the same applies to some adults.

But there also comes a point where busyness can lead to idleness—spiritual idleness. You know, believing in God, knowing Jesus died for our sins, going to church on Sundays (and Wednesday nights when we can get there), but then . . . Wham, the hurricaine of too much to do hits and our relationship with God falls by the wayside.

We’re busy in the physical sense but idle in the spiritual sense.

I know I’m guilty. And doesn’t it affect every aspect of life? Our joy, our peace, our hope, our patience, our kindness, our self-control—with spiritual idleness, poof and they’re gone. Then without them, the stresses in life build and swell until eventually something has to give. It’s usually our spirit, followed by a deluge of everything seeming to fall down around us.

This being Holy Week, I’ve made an effort to contemplate my relationship with God. Jesus died on the cross for my sins (and those of anyone who believes in Him) on the first Good Friday centuries ago, and I’ve always been grateful for that—but I need to be wary of spiritual idleness . . . which brings me back to the busyness.

So many of us desire a close relationship with the Lord, but the requirements of our day leave us feeling like we don’t have time to even think about it. Sometimes there isn’t much we can do to alleviate the busyness factors in our lives either—so what are we to do?

Well . . . we need to intentionally make time to spend with the Lord—praying, praising him, and reading his Word. We can talk to him throughout the day, even if it’s just a few words or sentences here and there, and ask him to speak to our heart. There are so many ways God can speak to us (through music, through another person, through his own Word), and he wants us to want to hear him.

We can praise him in whichever way(s) suit us best—through music, taking a walk and thanking him for the beauty he’s created, thanking him for all the blessings he’s provided. Whatever works best.

And we need to read the Bible daily. God’s given us all the instructions for a spiritually successful life, yet they often go unread. One help I’ve found with Bible reading is the YouVersion Bible app. It’s an awesome app (and free!), not only offering reading plans and daily reminders to read, but also your choice of Bible versions (some of which have an audio option so your phone will actually read it to you if you’re in the car, etc.). Of course, there’s also the option of audio Bibles or good old-fashioned reading the Bible like people have done for so many years.

At any rate, whichever ways we find to do these things—praying, praising him, and reading his Word—they’re infinitely important to our spiritual life and preventing spiritual idleness.

While considering my relationship with God this week, the words of Henry David Thoreau came to mind:

It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about? 

That reminded me of the story of Jesus in the temple as a boy and how he responded to Mary and Joseph’s concern about him, thinking he was lost. “Didn’t you know I would be about my Father’s business?” he asked them.

That’s my question to myself as we move into the last few days of Holy Week: What am I busy about? Is it my Father in heaven’s business?

It needs to be, and not only over the next few days but each and every day of my life. No matter how busy life gets, I need to make time for God. Life gets tough sometimes, but it’s so much easier when we walk closely with him.

Your turn. How do you find time for God in your busy schedule? What changes have you made that you find have helped you most?

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