As a small child (and as a big one) I have always been fascinated by watching my father work on engines. Whether it was a small lawn mower or a large diesel truck he could always seem to bring it back to life. Seeing the smile on his face when the engine would turn over and idle always brought a smile to my face. What was dead was alive again; and what was considered junk for many others was shown to be valuable.
The same thing is so very true of our spiritual life. So many times we forget how wretched we were before Christ came into our lives and brought us out of death and into life. We were worthless but he found us valuable. And like the hours my father would spend working hard to rebuild and remake those engines our Heavenly Father does the same with our lives. We are reborn into marvelous life and purpose.
Consider this idea: what if the engine was just left to idle? What if all it did was sit there and run; never doing anything else. What a waste, right? That motor, vehicle, boat, mower, etc. would not be serving its purpose if all it did was idle. More than that, it would be a waste of fuel that other engines could use to serve their purpose. It would waste a whole lot of time, effort, sweat, and headaches to bring new life to a dead engine if all it did was sit and idle and never go anywhere.
I hope you see the parallel I’m drawing here: we were not given new life in Christ to sit and idle. We were made to go out and get moving! God’s desires for our lives are to get outside ourselves, love other people, share our faith in word and action, and keep moving forward until Jesus comes back or we bring the lifestyle of God’s heavenly kingdom down to this Earth. Isn’t that what Jesus taught us to pray for? That God’s will would be done on Earth just as it is done in Heaven?
Sadly, we have sat idle. Our engine is running, but we are sitting still. We have been reborn, but we do nothing with it. We are content to live our lives day after day and never serve the purpose that we are here for. After all, if God’s only desire was for salvation to bring us to a right relationship with him then we would teleport straight to Heaven after trusting in him. But that isn’t how it works. God keeps us here to show his love to others and help them see that they need to be rescued like we were.
Busyness is the enemy. We get so caught up in our own lives, doing things that do have importance, but we place them in wrong number on our list of priorities. If you were to ask me who comes first in my life, I would say God without batting an eyelash. But the truth is, if I were to list how I map out how I delegate my time, my talents, and my treasure, then it would show I spend most of my time on myself and my family. Taking care of my family is very important, but not near as important as loving and obeying God.
Today I want us to examine 2 Thessalonians chapter 3. The entire chapter is incredibly valuable, so take some time to read it. Since I want you to chew on this concept we will concentrate on these few verses that capture the essence of the entire chapter:
2 Thessalonians 3 (NLT):
11 Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business. 12 We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living. 13 As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good.
Here was the problem: the church in Thessalonica had gotten bored of making disciples and following Paul’s example. They had become idle and directed their focus away from serving others to talking about others. They were more concerned, evidently, in other people’s personal matters than they were other people’s relationship with God. They had quit serving their purpose as a Church body and Paul was imploring them to get back on track. As a result, many of these believers were not serving their intended purpose. Like an engine that only idles they were not moving forward in their lives as followers of Christ.
Does this sound like you? Many times it is exactly who I am. I get tired of doing good and want to take care of me and mine. I shift my focus off of what truly matters onto what is temporary. Hear me clearly, many of the things we do are good; they are just in the wrong number on our list of priorities.
Here is my challenge for you (and me) today: take out pen and paper and write down your top 10 important things in your life. Make sure you put them in order of importance. What is listed as #1 should be the most important thing in your entire life. Next, I want you to write out how you spend your day on an average day. If you’re really into this you can do your entire week. But at least cover 24 hours of a typical day.
Where did you find you spend your time? Did it match with your list of priorities? Or was it mismatched? Often I have to sit back and ask myself this same question: am I being idle? Am I serving my purpose on this planet before I go to be with Christ? If I am not matching my time, talents, and treasure to my list of priorities something is out of place.
Today I want us to begin to pray and chew on this idea of being idle. Even if you find you are not idle are you operating on all cylinders? Are you full of fuel from God’s word to go the distance or are you worn out? Begin to look for areas you can improve on to go full throttle towards the direction God wants us to live in. And this week we’ll look for more ways to get better together.