If the devil can’t make you bad…

When I returned from Israel almost 2 months ago, my summer calendar was relatively clear.  I was so excited.  I was going to take my time, go through all my notes, all my pictures, all my memories, and put together a wonderful scrapbook of one of the greatest times in my life.  SCRATCH!  Within one week of my return, my calendar showed very few unmarked squares for the next 11 weeks!  I’m  just coming up now for a few brief moments of air before going back under. 

There’s an old saying bouncing around in my head right now, leaving behind a dent of conviction with every hit:

If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy!

Bad or busy:  One is as deadly as the other.  Both  keep us out of in-depth, intimate communion with God; both keep us from being filled with His Presence; both keep us from walking in His transcendent peace; both keep us from being fountains of living water refreshing other sojourners. 

As we drive down the highway of life, lots of things are stuffed into our “cars”: a spouse, children, parents, job, church, hobbies, quiet time, community clubs, service projects, exercise, Bible study, sleep, appointments — the list goes on and on!  And when time gets crunched, as it often does, what gets flung out the window?  Usually the important things; they always seem to get trumped by the urgent things.  Charles Hummel labeled this “the tyranny of the urgent.”  What’s amazing is that the important things are rarely urgent, and the urgent things are rarely important.  Yet the urgent things not only sit in the front seat of our “cars,” they oftentimes grab the wheel, while the important things sit patiently in the back seat. 

So how do you differentiate between the two?  How do you know if something is important or just urgent?  You must learn to look at each activity with an eternal eye.  Do so by asking a few questions: 

  • Will this activity have lasting results? 
  • What will be the effect of not doing it?  
  • Would God prefer I spend my time on this or something else?
  • Will this activity affect others and, if so, how? 
  • Will this action convert into a heavenly treasure or an earthly pile of rust?

I think you get the picture. 

FixThe activities that fill our lists fit into 1 of the 4 categories on the chart at left.  So take a piece of paper and divide it into 4 quadrants and label them like the chart.  Look at each item on your list , determine its importance-to-urgency ratio, and write the activity in the corresponding box.  Then start at the top right, using the following guide as much as possible:
  • Important and urgent — Do it first!
  • Important but not urgent — Delay it — but not for long!
  • Not important but urgent — Delegate it, if you can!
  • Not important and not urgent — Dump it when possible!

Yes, it takes time to analyze the eternal significance of your activities, but it’s well worth the effort and you’ll get faster as it becomes a habit.  In the end, some urgent things will still have to be done — or so your boss says!   And quality time with your spouse and children? Almost 100% important and urgent!

If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy?  Well, the truth is the devil can’t really make a believer do anything he/she does not want to do.  We have total power over him. ** We can try to blame him for our badness or our busyness but they’re really the result of our own choices.  So begin today training yourself to focus on the important things in life.  The results are out of this world!

Command them to do go, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.

In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age,

so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

1 Timothy 6:18-19

**1 John 4:4