In Jesus, all the promises of God find their “Yes” and “Amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Yet followers of Jesus will say “No” to self for the sake of the gospel (Mark 10:45) and “No” to a world which competes for God’s glory (Romans 11:36). Only by losing our lives for Christ do we show that we have been saved through Christ (Mark 8:34-38). Thus, Jesus taught us through his life and ministry how to say, “No” to busyness rooted in pride and anxiety. Even as the sinless Son of God, he showed us by example how to live within limits, to stay in our lane, and to set right priorities. The final principle for maintaining focus in a world of demands is to frequently stop for rest.
The Priority of Rest (Luke 10:39-41)
Over the past few years, I’ve learned the hard way how much I have needed rest. I’ve had to say “No” to many requests, including profitable ministry, in order to say “Yes” to what is better. Our foremost priority, as believers in Jesus, is to find our rest in God. Mary, for example, said “No” to housework and hospitality, so she could sit at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:39). Yet Martha, her sister, “was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me’” (v. 40). Martha clattered her cooking vessels, chopped up vegetables, swept and scrubbed like a whirling dervish, while Mary just sat there. Martha wanted the Master to take her side and to guilt her sister into serving. Yet Jesus tenderly replied, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things” (v. 41). “You are choked out by the cares of the world. You have too much on your plate and have also taken on other people’s plates. Your failure to set priorities has caused you to drift outside your lane. Instead, say ‘No’ to all the many things that trouble you and join your sister by sitting at my feet.”
In today’s society, we have lost the art of sitting quietly with Jesus. We are not so much occupied by hospitality and housekeeping. Instead, a major reason for our distraction is the ever-advancing encroachment of technology in our lives. Technology, of course, is not inherently evil. In fact, it provides us with many good benefits. Yet like any tool, it can be twisted by sin to burden us with busyness. By increasing our access to information, it increases our workload. We can click ourselves to death in our desire to stay connected because technology never leaves us alone. We always want to know what others are thinking as we share our lives with a crowd of closest “friends.” As one writer describes it, we are living in a giant room with billions of other people, who at any moment, might tap us on the shoulder with a new text, hit, comment, tweet, post, message, or thread. We are bombarded by a “non-stop festival of human interaction,” yet we are too busy to properly examine our hearts (Proverbs 4:23).
A simple idea for saying “No” to the busyness of life is to periodically unplug from your devices. Could you part from your phone for a week? Or last three days without checking email or social media? Do you ever binge-watch your favorite TV shows or immerse yourself in video games? Would you be ashamed to publicly state the hours you surfed online this week? You may not realize how tied you are to tech until you step away for a time.
Application Insight: Consider a few practical suggestions for saying “No” to your devices. First, set aside quiet hours or quiet zones in your house. Mark off periods of the day or places in your home where technology is not allowed. For example, at the dinner table collect all your phones in a basket or set them to silent mode. Don’t bring electronic devices to bed or check your messages during Sunday worship. Keep portions of your life sacred from the constantly encroaching noise of technology. Try one way to unplug this week and evaluate the way it affects you.
Second, deliberately step back in time. Practice traditional forms of entertainment and social interaction: Go for a walk; Read a book; Talk with a friend face-to-face; Take up gardening or sewing or other such activities which require minimal technology.
Third, maintain an eternal perspective. You don’t need to check the box scores every few minutes or get beeped and buzzed every time a friend updates a post. You don’t need to answer every email that enters your inbox. Remember you are living for eternity. You have a greater life purpose than the next tweet, the next post, the next “like” on social media. It’s good to say “No” as long as you are saying “Yes” to something better.
The Practice of Rest (Luke 10:38).
On the journey of life, make sure you also stop for rest. As a man, Jesus grew weary and even fell asleep in the bottom of a storm-tossed boat (Mark 4:38). He became hungry and thirsty like everyone else (3:20). So after a day of exhausting ministry, Jesus withdrew from the crowd and stopped at the home of his friends in Bethany where they prepared him a meal and a bed on which to sleep (Luke 10:38).
Application Insight: Rest is a precious gift from God (Mark 2:27), so take a day off to observe a weekly sabbath. Build a healthy rhythm into your work week, for both work and rest are good in their proper place if they are done “in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17).
Three actions will help us to practice healthy sabbath rest: Pray, Play, and Sleep. Prayer prepares our hearts for the priority of worship. So we prepare ourselves the evening before and the morning of each worship service. To paraphrase St. Augustine, “God has made us for himself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in him.” Sabbath rest allows for such extended times with Jesus as we come into his presence and listen to his teaching (Luke 10:39).
Second, play permits us to have fun on our sabbath. Rest does not require solemnity and asceticism. So we enjoy our loved ones and start new hobbies. We partake of meals together and delight in our families. We try not to think about work when we’re not at work. Instead, we labor well at the discipline of rest.
Third, we receive our sleep as a gift from God who “gives to his beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2). Sometimes our Good Shepherd makes us lie down like a sheep in green pastures, for he created us to depend on him (23:2). Thus, peaceful sleep testifies, “God, I trust you. You’ve got this. You can handle these trials without my help.” God created us to spend a third of our lives in bed to remind us of our complete reliance on him.So let us not pridefully boast of lack of sleep when the godliest thing we might do is to take a nap.
Application Insight: You have permission to take a nap today. Take time for fun and devote your day to prayer. Don’t feel you must be busy about everything; Just the right things. Stop to rest because it is good for your soul. Stop to rest, so you can serve others more effectively. Stop to rest, for you are not the Lord.
Jesus! I am resting, resting
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
12/15/2022 7:04:14 PM