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Fruitful or Frazzled?

by J. M. Farro on October 31st, 2021

   “For it is not [intended] that other people be eased and relieved [of their responsibility] and you be burdened and suffer [unfairly].”  2 Corinthians 8:13 AMP

   There is a serious problem among Christians these days that grieves my heart, and I believe it also grieves the heart of God.  Too many of God’s people are taking on responsibilities that are too much for them – responsibilities that the Lord never expected or wanted them to accept.  Sometimes, these well-meaning, but misguided, people commit themselves to performing tasks, activities, or errands that are completely out of the will of God for them.  Other times, they neglect to put boundaries and limits on the work that the Lord has, in fact, assigned them.  And the result can be disastrous.  Often, their health suffers.  Or their relationships become strained.  They may even harbor bitterness and resentment toward the people they feel are taking advantage of them.  In some cases, they may even become angry at God.  If you recognize yourself in any of these descriptions, don’t feel condemned.  All of us have fallen into this trap of the enemy at one time or another.  I certainly have.  But there’s a better way.  Let’s look at what the Word of God has to say on this subject.

   The apostle Paul wrote:  “Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.” (2 Corinthians 8:13 NIV)  Paul was referring to financial giving here, but the Lord has shown me that this principle can apply to the giving of our time and energy, too.  What this means is that while we are called to serve others – especially others in need – we should never serve them to the point where they are “relieved,” but we are “hard pressed”.  Human nature being what it is, people can be extremely selfish.  They may focus on their own needs, and expect and accept help from others, without regard for the other person’s well-being.  Then, the servant becomes hard pressed and worn out, and they risk becoming useless to everyone, including themselves and God.

   Solomon wrote about the righteous woman:  “She considers a [new] field before she buys or accepts it [expanding prudently and not courting neglect of her present duties by assuming other duties].” (Proverbs 31:16 AMP)  Did you get that?  This wise woman “considers” before she makes commitments.  She is careful not to “assume other duties” that will cause her to “neglect her present duties”.  She thinks things through.  And she undoubtedly consults God.  Too often, you and I take on new responsibilities and assignments that the Lord never intended us to.  We see someone in need and we think, “That person could use some help.  I’m a Christian, and I’m sure God would want me to help them.”  It sounds righteous and noble, but if we haven’t consulted the Lord in the matter, and we just used our own logic or reasoning, we could very well step out of the will of God.  And we will regret our decision in the end.  The second part of this verse says:  “With her savings [of time and strength] she plants fruitful vines in her vineyard.”  The bottom line is that we are called to be fruitful for the Lord.  But we can sacrifice our productiveness for God when we fail to use our “time and strength” wisely.

   So how do we make sure that we are not out of the will of God with our commitments?  We seek the Lord for His wisdom and guidance.  “If you need wisdom – if you want to know what God wants you to do – ask Him, and He will gladly tell you.  He will not resent your asking.  But when you ask Him, be sure that you really expect Him to answer…” (James 1:5-6 NLT)  The Lord cares very much how you use your time and energy, and He will tell you how to spend them wisely when you claim His promises, and expect to hear from Him.  One of the best ways to become sensitive and obedient to God’s voice is to spend regular time alone with Him – praying and reading His Word, and listening intently for His answers.  Constant noise and busyness can make it nearly impossible to hear from God clearly.  But when we practice regular periods of stillness and attentiveness, we will be amazed at how the Lord reveals Himself and His will for us.  I am writing this message today because I care about you, and I don’t want you to spend the rest of your life weary and worn out.  I want you to be fruitful for the Lord, so that you can experience the truly abundant, fulfilling, and satisfying life that He’s called you to!

   Lord, forgive me for the times that I have overextended myself and taken on responsibilities that were not Your best for me.  I repent for the times I used my time and energy unwisely, and sacrificed my fruitfulness for You.  Teach me how to consult You before I commit to new responsibilities or assignments.  And show me how to establish proper boundaries and limits, so that my health and well-being won’t suffer.  Thank You that as I seek You and follow Your lead in this area, I will live the life of peace and purpose that belongs to me in Christ! 

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