Daily Riches: Busyness – Evidence of Laziness and Vanity (Eugene Peterson) *

“I want to appear important. What better way than to be busy? The incredible hours, the crowded schedule, and the heavy demands of my time are proof to myself and to all who will notice – that I am important. …I live in a society in which crowded schedules and harassed conditions are evidence of importance, so I develop a crowded schedule and harassed conditions. When others notice, they acknowledge my significance, and my vanity is fed. …Busyness is the enemy of spirituality. It is essentially laziness. It is doing the easy thing instead of the hard thing. It’s filling our time with our own actions instead of paying attention to God’s action. It’s taking charge.” Eugene Peterson

“Martha… said, ‘Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you
that my sister just sits here while I do all the work?
Tell her to come and help me.’
But the Lord said to her, ‘My dear Martha,
you are worried and upset over all these details!
There is only one thing worth being concerned about.
Mary has discovered it,
and it will not be taken away from her.’”
Luke 10:40-42

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Martha failed to realize she had an agenda for Jesus’ visit, and that it was her, not her sister who was creating stress. (This is Merton’s “activity … where no activity is required.”) Have you fallen into this trap lately?
  • If we didn’t have the analysis by Jesus, wouldn’t we assume that Mary’s inconsiderate sister was wrong for refusing to help? that Martha realized what was important and that Mary did not? (Think about the prescriptions of hospitality both now and then.) Which sister would we admire more? We only know better because we’ve become so familiar (if not comfortable) with this story. Don’t you agree that Jesus’ analysis is unexpected and counterintuitive?
  • Which sister do you resemble more? If Martha, could it be because you “want to appear important?”

Abba, I often feel I know just what needs to happen, and just as often fail to consider that you may have other plans or priorities. Help me to be more aware of my motives, and to listen to you before creating more drama for myself and others.


For More: The Contemplative Pastor by Eugene Peterson


“Then suddenly it happened, I lost every dime, but I’m richer by far, with a satisfied mind.” (“Satisfied Mind”, lyrics by Red Hayes and Jack Rhodes) Often it’s in our most painful losses that we find what really matters, and the satisfaction found in God alone. I hope that Daily Riches will help you to be “richer by far” as you grow in such satisfaction. Thanks for reading and sharing Daily Riches!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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