Confession: I’m a productivity fiend. I love the whole idea of getting things done, banging through a checklist, and keeping on top of things. I love hearing people’s tricks and tips for becoming more productive. And I do believe that there’s a biblical precedent for being productive. Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Productivity can be wonderfully God-honoring, and I’m truly grateful to God for those who have helped me become more productive.
But my constant push for productivity has exposed sin in my heart as well. There are definite dangers in always seeking to be more productive. Here are a few I’ve seen in my own life. Can you relate?
The Danger of Legalism
Scripture is brilliantly clear that God will never accept me based on anything I do. My hope is forever and always in the finished work of Jesus Christ. The premise behind productivity however is doing more, and for me, much of the doing involves good things, like reading spiritual books or taking care of things around the house. The problem arises when my doing starts to bleed into my grasp of the gospel. At times I find myself feeling that God accepts me or loves me more because I’ve been productive. In the words of Sinclair Ferguson, I start to “smuggle” good works into the gospel. This is sinful legalism. I must always pursue productivity in light of the gospel.
The Danger of Doing Instead of Loving
It’s so easy to confuse doing things for God with simply loving God. This was the mistake that Martha made when she and her sister Mary had Jesus over for dinner. Martha was serving like a mad woman, running about frantically in an effort to put on a dinner extravaganza for Jesus, while Mary was just hanging out with Jesus. In an effort to get Mary moving, Martha pulled the “she’s not doing anything” trick on Jesus. But Jesus rebuffed her with these words:
Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.
I need to remember that only one thing is necessary: loving Christ. Doing things for God doesn’t equal loving God. Reading spiritual books, serving in the church, keeping a well-managed home – all these things are wonderful, but they don’t necessarily mean that my heart is full of affection toward God. I want God to fill my heart with deep affection for him which will in turn lead to acts of service toward God.
The Danger of Neglecting
In the constant effort to be more productive it’s easy to neglect the most important things, like my family. When I’m sitting on the living room floor having a ‘jam session’ with Charis and her toy piano, I’m not necessarily being ‘productive’, but that’s the most important place for me to be. By God’s grace, I want to make time to ‘do nothing’ with my family. Time for memories, and ice cream, and trips to the park. I don’t want the push for productivity to take me away from what’s truly important.
What about you? Do you ever find yourself falling into the traps of productivity?
+photo by orangeacid